Mailbag: Chances Heat trade Dragic; could Suns try to pair Dragic with Luka Doncic? More on Winslow

Luka Doncic nd Goran Dragic of Slovenia during basketball match between National Teams of Slovenia and France at the EuroBasket 2017. (Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida)

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at

    From Carlos, Boca Raton: Any chance the Heat trade Goran Dragic maybe to help get rid of one of their bad contacts? If so could there be a Dragic, Doncic reunion somewhere?

Dragic’s contract is reasonable coming off his only All-Star season and having posted two of his best three seasons the last two years. He is owed $17 million next season and $54.3 million the final three years of his five-year deal.

But we all know Pat Riley said nobody on the team is untouchable, so could Dragic, who turned 32 this month, be traded? Absolutely. Anybody could be dealt as the Heat attempt to improve a roster that has won 41 and 44 games the last two seasons. I could see Dragic being traded if he is part of a deal in which the Heat are able to shed Hassan Whiteside’s contract and improve the team immediately and for the future, or if the Heat received an All-Star in return (perhaps as part of a package for Kawhi Leonard?)  The biggest challenge in dealing Dragic – and really making any trade this summer – is that many teams will looking for younger players, draft picks and/or expiring contracts.

Dragic does loves playing for the Heat and said he probably will keep a home in Miami when he retires. If it were up to him, he’d finish his career with the Heat.

As for Dragic reuniting with fellow Slovenian Luka Doncic, his teammate last summer when Slovenia won the EuroBasket championship, anything is possible. Doncic, 19, just wrapped up an historic season by winning the EuroLeague title with Real Madrid and being named the MVP of the league and Final Four. He is expected to be a high draft pick, perhaps even No. 1. Recently it was reported Doncic has not decided if he will leave Europe but it seems unlikely he would return. And a Dragic-Doncic reunion was a hot topic when the Suns, who now have the No. 1 pick, hired Igor Kokoskov, who coached Dragic and Doncic last summer when Slovenia won the EuroBasket title.

But so much would have to align for this to happen. First, the Suns would have to pass on Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and instead pick Doncic and then make it a priority to bring on Dragic, who already is a fan favorite in Phoenix having played there for parts of six different seasons. But that is just the start, the Suns – who also own the 16th pick – would have to put together something the Heat believe would upgrade the roster now and for the future to part with Dragic.

    From Chris, Weston: Has Justise Winslow turned the corner? How much better can he get?

Has Winslow completely turned the corner? The Heat hope not. They hope there is a lot more improvement to come. But the three-year veteran from Duke certainly showed some encouraging signs as last season progressed. Winslow’s numbers were not overwhelming – 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, .424 shooting, .380 on 3 pointers – but his rebounds and field goal percentages were career highs. And he improved in the playoffs with 9.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The biggest thing was he gained confidence as the season progressed, averaging 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds the final 21 games, and continued to show his versatility, on both ends. Winslow played everything from point guard to power forward and was asked to cover wings and centers.

Winslow has a lot of work to do to live up to being the 10th pick in the draft but 2017-18 was a nice start. If he returns, look for him to play a very large and important role next season.

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Goran Dragic’s teammate, 18-year-old Luka Doncic, could be No. 1 pick in 2018 NBA draft

Luka Doncic, 18, with his idol and mentor, Heat guard Goran Dragic.

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic was the best player at the European Basketball championships this summer.

Dragic led Slovenia to a 9-0 record and its first ever European title, averaging team highs of 22.6 points and 5.1 assists. He was named the tournament’s MVP.

But the 31-year-old Dragic will be passing the torch to a fellow countryman, a teenager, who has become a household name in Europe and, likely, soon far beyond those borders.

Luka Doncic is an 18-year-old prodigy who averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists while teaming with Dragic, his mentor, to bring Slovenia the championship. He is 6-foot-8, 228 pounds and could be in the conversation as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

And few know Doncic like Dragic, who not only played with him this summer but also was a teammate of Doncic’s father, Sasa, 10 years ago while playing in Slovenia on a team in which young Luka was the ball boy. Dragic and Sasa played together for three years.

“Even at that age you could see he had a great feeling for the ball like his dad,” Dragic told ESPN  before scoring 35 points to lead Slovenia to a 93-85 victory over Serbia in the championship game Sunday. Dragic was named the tournament’s MVP.

“He would always sit under the basket. Every time at halftime when we came out from the locker room he would always be shooting the ball. I always have this memory.”

Doncic is a combo guard with skills and a knowledge of the game that has always far exceeded his age. He has dominated leagues in Europe since he was 8-years-old, most often against players much older, and most recently has honed his game while playing for powerhouse Real Madrid in Spain.

Doncic’s coming out party was this summer’s tournament, which provided the highest level of competition in his young career. His signature game was Slovenia’s quarterfinals win over Latvia and Kristaps Porzingis when he scored 27 points. In the semifinals against a loaded Spain team with NBA players like Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio, he had 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in Slovenia’s upset win.

Doncic left Sunday’s final in the third quarter after spraining his ankle. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.

“I’ve seen a lot of players, they get hyped and then they kind of lose control,” Dragic said. “It gets in their heads. In a few years you don’t even hear from them anymore. I don’t think that’s going to happen with Luka.”

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