Goran Dragic is back for an eighth season with the Heat. Well, at least he is for now.
Miami made the decision to pick up the veteran guard’s $19.4 million contract on Sunday afternoon on eve of free agency. But are they keeping Dragic? Maybe not.
Dragic could be used as a trade chip for Miami as they pursue Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. The team is targeting the veteran Lowry in a potential sign-and-trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The Heat’s decision to pick up the $19.4M option on Goran Dragic’s deal is a possible precursor in utilizing him as part of a potential sign-and-trade with Toronto for Kyle Lowry, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 1, 2021
Lowry has long been an object of the Heat’s affection, and he has been connected to the team in various trade rumors over the years. And when he was a free agent in 2017, Miami was considered a potential landing spot for him. However, Lowry remained in Toronto, but now appears to be planning his exit.
Lowry is coming off a season in which he averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1 steal per game. However, the Raptors were unable to make the playoffs despite Lowry’s performance and appear to be heading for a mini-rebuild or retool. As such, moving on from Lowry, 35, seems like a sensible choice.
Miami could use Lowry’s defensive tenacity and natural ability as a distributor to replace and upgrade Dragic at the point guard spot. Dragic, 35, averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game last season while playing 26.7 minutes per game for the Heat. He was arguably their most effective point guard last year, but Lowry is better than him.
Pairing Lowry with Jimmy Butler would surely give the Heat a strong defensive backcourt and could help them be more competitive than they were in 2021. Miami was the only team that swept in the NBA playoffs. The sweep came at the hands of the eventual NBA champion Bucks.
Miami will have to pay a hefty price for Lowry. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Lowry wants an extension worth $90 million over three years. The Heat would have to be willing to pay that and give the Raptors Dragic plus salary filler to make a trade work.
Will a sign-and-trade be completed? That remains to be seen. Either way, expect Miami to be in on Lowry as the veteran looks for a new home.