MIAMI — Goran Dragic can breathe easier now.
With a trade rumor involving Dragic popping up earlier this week, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra pulled Dragic aside to shoot down the rumor before Thursday’s preseason game against the Hornets.
“We were just at the shootaround and he came to me and said, ‘G, I want to clarify something. Those rumors, they’re not true and nothing is going on,'” Dragic said of Spoelstra’s message to him. “I told him that I respect that because this is not his job. But I understand that this is a business. But of course, when he told me that it was a little bit easier for me.”
Basketball Insiders reported earlier this week that the Heat have discussed a trade that involves sending Dragic to the Kings for forward Rudy Gay and guard Darren Collison.
The move would help the Heat clear salary-cap space for the 2017 offseason with Gay holding a $14.3 million player option for next season that he’s expected to opt out of to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Collison (due $5.2 million this season) set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer due to an expiring contract. Meanwhile, Dragic has three guaranteed seasons remaining on his contract for a total of $51 million and a player option for the 2019-20 season.
“My friends called me and my brother and all the people back home and asked me, ‘Is this really happening?'” Dragic said of how he learned of the trade rumor. “I was like, ‘I don’t know.'”
Dragic was appreciative that Spoelstra took the time to dismiss the trade talk. Dragic, 30, remembers learning from his agent that the Suns traded him to the Rockets in 2011 at age 24.
“I already got traded once and nobody told me,” Dragic said. “As soon as we landed from the plane, my agent called to tell me, nobody else. Basically it was a painful situation back then. But now this is my ninth year in the league so I already understand.”
Dragic had a strong preseason for the Heat, averaging 13.5 points on 55.2 percent shooting to go with 3.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists in six games.