The Dallas Mavericks have 14 players currently under contract, and fans assumed their last roster spot would go to vetern point Goran Dragic. There has been rumored interest for over one year, and the Dragon has a close relationship with Mavs superstar Luka Doncic. Dragic has talked about wanting to play with his countryman in the NBA.
Things did not work out last summer as Dragic had his option picked up by the Miami Heat before being traded to the Raptors. Toronto did not want to buy him out and eventually traded him to the Spurs at the deadline. By the time Dragic became a free agent, the Mavericks had acquired Spencer Dinwiddie, and the role they envisioned for the Dragon was gone.
Jalen Brunson leaving in free agency seemed to set up the perfect storm for the Mavs and Dragic. Dallas needs a backup point guard and ball-handler, and Dragic was willing to come for the veteran minimum, so fans were confused when the Dragon signed with the Bulls. He explained why to the Slovenian media.
Goran Dragic on why he chose the Bulls over the Dallas Mavericks in free agency
The Slovenian interview (subscription required) made it clear that the Bulls were offering a guaranteed role off the bench as the backup point guard, and the Mavericks were not, despite desperately needing someone to fill that role. Dragic made it seem like Dallas was offering an end-of-the-bench type role where he was not guaranteed to be in the rotation.
The Mavs want defense in the backcourt next to Doncic, so Dragic was not the perfect fit. He did offer another steady ball-handler and playmaker that plays his best in the postseason. The 36-year-old wanted to play with Luka, and the feeling was mutual for the Mavericks star, so it was disappointing to see him sign with the Bulls.
The Mavericks only have a minimum contract to hand out in free agency, but the point guard market has all but dried up. Dallas will need to make a trade if they plan on adding another ball-handler before the start of the 2022-2023 season. Can they find someone better than Dragic at a price they are willing to pay? If not, missing out on the Dragon looks even worse. Stay tuned to see how it shakes out.