Goran Dragic won't re-sign with the Phoenix Suns this summer, according to USA Today's Sam Amick, opening up more possibility that he will be moved by Thursday's trade deadline.
The latest on Dragic was that the Suns were keen on re-signing him, and looking to deal lesser players like Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green. This very real development -- Amick's story begins with "Goran Dragic wants out of Phoenix" -- has the potential to swing very favorably the Rockets' way.
It's no secret that GM Daryl Morey covets the Suns point guard who blossomed into an NBA starter in Houston. And things are heating up quickly.
Dragic has given Suns a "very short list," per source, of teams that he would like to be traded to by Thursday.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 18, 2015
It seems almost inconceivable that Houston isn't on that list; he has already said he won't rule out playing for the Rockets again and they're a clear contender with a need at point guard. There aren't many of those; The Cavs, Bulls, Hawks, Spurs, Thunder, Warriors, Clippers, Grizzlies, Blazers, Wizards, Raptors and Mavericks are all set at starting point guard.
However, Amick also reported Dragic wants the keys to his own team à la Stephen Curry. That won't happen on the Rockets; after all, James Harden averaging more assists per game than the Dragon this year. That explains Adrian Wojnarowski's tweet just minutes later.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks are among preferred destinations for Goran Dragic, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 18, 2015
If Dragic wanting off a team that would make the playoffs if the season ended today weren't enough, he apparently wants to go to an even worse team, just for the minutes, stats, and inevitable insane piles of cash that will be thrown at him this offseason. Or, in the case of the Heat, slightly smaller, tax-free money at the beach.
There's no indication the Rockets aren't on that list, as disconcerting as it is about Dragic's personal desire to win. The Knicks and Lakers have nothing they would be willing to trade. Their first-round picks will be crazy high this year, and the movable assets on the team are already out the door. I don't see the Suns trading Dragic for Jeremy Lin's expiring deal, Jordan Hill and a 2017 first-round pick.
Update: We now have an indication the Rockets aren't, in fact, on Dragic's list, per Amick. Of course, the Suns can trade him to whoever, but that will certainly give Morey MUCH more pause.
We'll expand on the Rockets' assets, but Terrence Jones is a major one. He's a tad redundant on the Suns, considering he fits very well with what the Morris twins do, but he's a much stronger post offensive player than either of them. He could be a reasonable small-ball 5 in coach Jeff Hornacek's lineups; after all, the Suns deployed Markieff Morris there against the Rockets, and Jones is bigger and stronger.
The deal of Jones, Kostas Papanikolaou (a potentially expiring contract) and the Pelicans' first round pick works. The Rockets could also throw in a second-rounder or two -- Morey's always good at getting more of those.
Bottom line: Dragic is clearly gettable right now, and the Rockets have an outside shot at the very least. Perhaps the inside track. Morey has a history of dealing with Suns GM Ryan McDonough, and his recent flattery of Danny Ainge may help in greasing the wheels of a sneaky three-team trade.
The Rockets appear closer than ever to getting what many feel is the final piece to a championship-caliber roster.