The Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers are expressing the most serious interest in signing Slovenian guard Zoran Dragic, ESPN.com has learned.
League sources told ESPN.com this week that talks regarding the NBA future of Dragic -- younger brother of Phoenix Suns star guard Goran Dragic -- are scheduled to intensify this week now that Slovenia has been eliminated from the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.Zoran Dragic scored 11 points Tuesday night in Slovenia's 119-76 loss to Team USA, with brother Goran totaling a team-high 13 points.
As ESPN.com reported earlier this week, Zoran Dragic's new contract in Spain with Unicaja Malaga allows for an escape to the NBA this season as long as the 25-year-old moves before the start of the new league season in Spain in October. Sources say that Malaga would also have to be paid a higher buyout fee were Dragic to jump to the NBA immediately compared to the 750,000 euros (nearly $1 million) that Malaga would be owed if he waits until the summer of 2015.
The chance remains, of course, that new NBA teams will join this month's bidding for the younger Dragic, but signing him naturally would offer potential short- and long-term benefits for the Suns in their fight to hold on to Goran Dragic, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July 2015 after earning All-NBA Third Team honors last season.
Zoran Dragic is projected to play shooting guard in the NBA with a shot that's still developing but with toughness and a motor that are unmistakably reminiscent of Goran Dragic. He has solidified his status as an NBA prospect with his play in this tournament, helping Slovenia make a real run at winning Group D before pumping in a team-high 18 points Saturday in the win over the Dominican Republic that clinched a quarterfinal showdown with the United States.
On Aug. 26 in Gran Canaria, in Team USA's first game on Spanish soil, Zoran Dragic scored a team-best 16 points in the Slovenians' 101-71 exhibition defeat.
"He was awesome," Goran Dragic told ESPN.com that night. "He was our best player on the court. It means a lot to play with him. We don't see each other so often. OK, on Skype, but it's not the same. Now it's a perfect situation for us to play together with the national team.
"We can share the court and maybe do some damage [with the national team]. And hopefully someday we can play each other in the NBA."