Shortly before the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline, the Miami Heat exercised the $19.4 million team option for Goran Dragic.
The Heat has exercised its $19.4 million team option on Goran Dragic.— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) August 1, 2021
The deadline to either accept or decline their respective team options was Sunday at 5 p.m. EST.
In the past 24 hours or so, the question of Dragic’s future became uncertain. Shams Charania of The Athletic said that if the Heat declined to exercise the team option for Dragic — making him a free agent — several championship and playoff contenders would have interest.
If Miami declines the 2021-22 $19.4M team option on guard Goran Dragic, there’s expected to be interest from several NBA title and postseason contenders in unrestricted free agency. His option deadline is Sunday.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 31, 2021
But even after this news, Dragic’s future is not set in stone. The Heat can use Dragic’s $19.4 million salary to facilitate a trade. (In fact, Miami’s decisions to give team options for this upcoming season to Andre Iguodala, Dragic and Meyers Leonard over the past 18 months gave the Heat the option to pick up those options and move them in trades.)
I wrote back in June that Dragic’s close relationship with Jimmy Butler makes it unlikely that Miami would trade him. But Adrian Wojnarowski said that Kyle Lowry “remains a firm target” for the Heat in free agency, though the obstacle of acquiring Lowry outright might be harder to clear.
Miami can still acquire him via a sign-and-trade, which hard-caps them — meaning the organization wouldn’t be able to exceed the $143 million cap threshold under any circumstance next season.
Lowry is also close with Butler. But does it make sense to have both Lowry and Dragic on the same team?
As the Miami Heat create salary cap space, Toronto free agent guard Kyle Lowry remains a firm target in free agency, sources tell ESPN. Miami has more levers to pull to create space to sign Lowry outright -- or can still endeavor to work a sign-and-trade with the Raptors.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 1, 2021
In fact, Wojnarowski said that the decision to pick up Dragic’s team option is a possible precursor to a sign-and-trade for Lowry.
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
Dragic averaged 13.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 50 games last season. He shot 43.2 percent and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc — sporting a 55.2 true shooting percentage.
The 35-year-old was acquired from the Phoenix Suns in Feb. of 2015 in a three-team deal that shipped Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, Shawne Williams, Danny Granger and two first round picks (2017, 2021) out of South Beach.
In 443 career regular season games with Miami, he’s averaged 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per contest on 46.2 shooting from the floor and 36.4 percent from 3-point range.