Houston Rocket Trade Rumor: Goran Dragic Headed Back to Houston?

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Houston Rocket Trade Rumor: Goran Dragic Headed Back to Houston?

It’s no secret Goran Dragic isn’t happy with his reduced role in Phoenix this season. With the addition of Isaiah Thomas, Dragic’s numbers have decreased and in a contract year that’s not a good thing.

So, news the Suns are shopping him came as no surprise given Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas are inked to contracts and they also have the talented rookie Tyler Ennis who isn’t seeing any time on their roster.

Couple that with the rash of losses Phoenix have been experiencing and the suddenly surging Oklahoma City Thunder and it appears all is not well on the desert front.

The rumor mill is heating up that the Suns are looking to off load Dragic before the deadline and further news is circulating that Houston is one of the teams in hot pursuit of last year’s most improved player. It will come at a price though as the Suns are said to want a first round draft pick:

[Sport News] | Report: Phoenix Suns want Goran Dragic trade http://t.co/APAWZ0V3wf |Via Sports Mole

— Naija NewsPapers (@NaijaNewsPapers) February 13, 2015

The Houston Rockets are reportedly one of the teams in hot pursuit of the Suns’ point guard.   Marc Stein of ESPN reports Suns GM Lon Babby is not ruling out their intent to aggressively pursue options at or prior to the deadline:

“I would take the fifth, generally, on any of these specific trade rumors,” Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby told the Arizona Republic. “What I would say is I expect us to be active. And what I mean by that is we’re not going to just sit here and wait for the phone to ring. “We’ll be initiating calls to every team, and taking the temperature of what’s out there and what’s available. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we do something between now and next Thursday.”

From Houston’s perspective:

Pros:

  • Dragic is definitely an upgrade offensively over Patrick Beverley who is going through a terrible couple of weeks on both ends of the court. Opponents are repeatedly leaving him wide open for shots and when he does handle the ball he isn’t making good distribution decisions. In the past 10 games Beverley is missing wide open shots and wide open teammates, a terrible combination. Furthermore, his defensive prowess has seemingly disappeared as opposing point guards have been torching the Rockets.
  • In the last ten games Beverley’s efficiency and stats have dropped him from 30th in point guards to 35th as per hoop stats and other than Rondo the only point guard battles he is winning are versus lower end or rookie opponents (Smart, Lin, Thomas)
  • Dragic meanwhile is ranked 8th in efficiency though he is listed under the shooting guard category given Bledsoe and Thomas get minutes at the point guard position.
  • Dragic is familiar with the Rocket system and coach Kevin McHale, having played 88 games with the Rockets over 2 seasons.
  • With Dwight Howard out until mid March or April there is more of a priority to find another offensive threat to help James Harden with scoring and more specifically ball distribution.
  •  Looking at how successful Dragic and Bledsoe have been in Phoenix, imagine the possibilities of the Harden/Dragic tandem
  • If Houston were to get Dragic now he would know they want him long term which is always an incentive for a player.
  •  Last season Dragic averaged 20.8 points per game and 6.0 assists (down to 17.5 ppg and 4.1 assists this season)

Dec 6, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) drives the ball during the third quarter as Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) defends at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Suns 100-95. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cons:

  • Conversely, Houston was the same team who let him go and had him in a point guard see saw battle with Kyle Lowry, so he may not be as eager to return to the Rockets and worse may not have trust in McHale.
  • As per above it was rumored Houston was one of the teams who met with Lowry first last summer and while both sides maintain there were no hard feelings the fact Lowry was adamant about returning to Toronto when Houston had Harden and Howard as their stars it does make you wonder what exactly occurred during the time Lowry and Dragic were with the Rockets.
  • Dragic is a free agent so there is no guarantee he’ll remain in Houston after this season so GM Daryl Morey has to decide if whatever they give up is worth it. There are only 29 regular season games remaining plus however long the Rocket’s playoff run would be.
  • How much do the Rockets give up defensively by playing Dragic? He’s proven to be an upper tier offensive player but that is on a run and gun team who doesn’t play much defense. And while Harden is much improved in this area would starting two offensive minded guards make the Rockets much more susceptible defensively?
  • Phoenix is saying they want a first round draft pick which could be extremely costly if Dragic doesn’t remain past this season. Of note: Houston gave up their 2015 pick to the Lakers, but they have New Orleans 2015 pick (New Orleans’ 1st round pick to Houston protected for selections 1-3 and 20-30 in 2015 as per Real GM)

Hearing Suns want a first-rounder for Goran Dragic and, rest assured, they’ll get it. Rockets got to be tempted. — Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 12, 2015


From Phoenix perspective:

Pros:

  • Pick up a good prospect or draft pick
  • Get Tyler Ennis some playing time
  • Potentially utilize Thomas and Bledsoe in concert similar to how the Dragic/Bledsoe tandem worked last season

Cons:

  • Perhaps the Suns management thought 3 point guards would ratchet up the success they experienced utilizing the tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic together last season, but it appears the experiment isn’t working. What might be more concerning is Thomas is better suited to a bench role and Ennis may not be ready to start.
  • Dragic at 6’3″ is the tallest of the current 3 guard line-up so if Thomas (listed at a questionable 5’9″) moves to the starting point guard it makes the Suns very small in the back court (Bledsoe listed at 6’1″) .
  • Furthermore while Thomas did garner 6.3 assists last season that was playing beside DeMarcus Cousins who got a lot of easy buckets in the paint (and therefore easy assists for Thomas). This season he is averaging 3.7 assists and playing on more of an iso heavy team.

In the short term the Rockets need to ensure they retain a high playoff seed ideally with home court which means they need to address roster concerns quickly with Dwight Howard out possibly until April.  The other key factor is Houston cannot expect Harden to carry the primary offensive scoring and play making load and continue to play through ailments and then show up for the playoffs rested.

Ultimately the Rockets need to address their concerns now, especially if they want Harden and Howard operating at full potential come playoff time. I’m just not sure Dragic is their best bet. I still think making Reggie Jackson their priority makes more sense.

What do you think?

Next: Has James Harden already sewn up MVP ?

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