NBA Buyout Market: Goran Dragić Is a Great Fit for the Milwaukee Bucks, But Not The Perfect 1

The Milwaukee Bucks plan to be active in the NBA buyout market. A report is circulating they will aggressively pursue San Antonio Spurs guard Goran Dragić once he is a free agent.

Milwaukee took a double shot to its backcourt and wing rotation on Feb. 10. The Bucks traded 2018 first-0round pick Donte DiVincenzo to the Sacramento Kings in the deal that brought big man Serge Ibaka from the Los Angeles Clippers. Later that night, sixth man Pat Connaughton broke a bone in his right hand.

Dragić isn’t the best potential fit for the Bucks. But the perfect fit might not become available.

The Milwaukee Bucks got thin fast

With DiVincenzo out west and Connaughton’s hand injury, the backcourt/wing rotation for the Milwaukee Bucks is paper-thin. With the trade deadline passed, the only source for help is the NBA buyout market.

Khris Middleton and Grayson Allen have the starting spots nailed down solidly. Middleton averages 19.5 points in 31.9 minutes a night and is a crucial crunch-time presence. Allen is shooting 39.3% from deep and scoring 11.6 points a game, both career highs.

Veteran George Hill has struggled in his age-35 season, shooting only 31.6% from long range. Wesley Matthews, also 35, is making only 35.2% of his threes.

From there, it drops off dramatically. Second-year wing Jordan Nwora has potential but struggles with consistency. Since returning to a bench role when Milwaukee got through its health and safety protocols crisis, Nwora is shooting 42.3% inside the arc and is 4-for-24 from three-point land in his last 10 appearances. He’s also had four DNP-Coach’s Decisions mixed in.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo, listed as a small forward, isn’t a shooting threat and plays back-of-the-rotation minutes at best.

The Bucks did get good news on Feb. 14. Connaughton’s surgery to repair his fractured fourth metacarpal went well. The team announced it expects him to miss four weeks.

That explains Milwaukee’s interest in Goran Dragić.

Coming soon to an NBA buyout market near you: Goran Dragić

The Milwaukee Bucks reportedly will make an aggressive run at veteran guard Goran Dragić once he hits the NBA buyout market.
The Milwaukee Bucks reportedly will make an aggressive run at veteran guard Goran Dragić once he hits the NBA buyout market. | Cole Burston/Getty Images

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Goran Dragić will hit the NBA buyout market next week once he and the Spurs negotiate a buyout of what’s left of his expiring contract. Dragić’s cap number for the season is $19.4 million.

He played only five games with the Toronto Raptors before the team let him go home on Nov. 29. An All-Star in 2018, The Dragon ended up north of the border as part of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade arrangement last summer.

In his 14th season, Dragić adapted to a reserve role the past three seasons with Miami, starting almost exclusively from 2012–18. Upon his trade to the Spurs, the belief was that the 35-year-old would go to the Dallas Mavericks to join Slovenian countryman Luka Dončić. But Dallas acquired point guard Spencer Dinwiddie at the trade deadline, making the roster fit more complicated.

Dragić might need time to get back to playing speed. He last played on Nov. 13 and averaged 8.0 points in 18.0 minutes per game. Last season in 50 games with the Heat, the left-handed combo guard put up 13.4 points and 4.4 assists in 26.7 minutes a night.

The perfect fit for the Milwaukee Bucks might not hit the market

One player receiving buzz as a potential candidate for the NBA buyout market would fit the Milwaukee Bucks like a custom-made glove. But the Orlando Magic may opt to hold onto seven-year veteran Gary Harris.

Unlike Goran Dragić, Harris isn’t a point guard. But the eight-year veteran is a plus defender and is shooting 38.1% on 4.9 deep attempts per game, his best performance since 2017–18.

The Magic like him as a backup and a mentor to youngsters Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs. He also was deep in the playoffs as part of the Denver Nuggets’ run to the Western Conference Finals in 2020.

A new veteran emerged on the NBA buyout market on Feb. 14 when the NBA reinstated Tyreke Evans. According to Wojnarowski, Evans can sign with a team as soon as Friday at noon Eastern.

Evans last played for the Indiana Pacers in 2019. Per Scott Hornet and J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, the NBA suspended Evans for at least two years for violations of the league’s anti-drug program.

Marijuana is not on the list of drugs covered by the policy. The list includes amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, LSD, and opiates.

The 2009–10 NBA Rookie of the Year made his last NBA appearance on April 21, 2019, when the Boston Celtics swept the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. The 32-year-old is younger than Dragić.

Because he hasn’t played for another team this season, Evans is not subject to the March 1 eligibility deadline for the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks may decide they can survive a month. But they will likely pursue Goran Dragić when he hits the market. Contention windows are delicate, and a setback in Connaughton’s rehab could jeopardize a run at a second straight NBA title.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference. Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

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