Former Toronto Raptors guard Goran Dragic could face his old team for the first time next week.
A newly-signed member of the Brooklyn Nets, Dragic is scheduled to face the Raptors at home on Monday before travelling to Toronto on Tuesday, the same day Scotiabank Arena will host a full-capacity crowd again.
Having played just five games for the Raptors this year, Dragic became a hot topic of conversation throughout the year. Neither team nor player seemed all too happy with the situation.
The Raptors initially got Dragic (along with Precious Achiuwa) last summer as part of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade deal before he retracted offseason comments that he had “higher ambitions” and was interested in playing for a contender.
But Dragic never quite fit into the Raptors’ plans either, playing in just one of sixteen games after suiting up for the first four contests of the seasons.
Dragic eventually left the team for good in November for personal reasons, popped up a few times in Miami, and then was shipped off to the San Antonio Spurs on trade deadline day for Thad Young (and a subsequently bought out Drew Eubanks).
After signing with the Nets following his buyout from San Antonio, Dragic met the Brooklyn media after his first practice with the team today.
Kai x Swamp Dragon pic.twitter.com/Iy8A2ey7DZ
— Kristian Winfield #NFTAllStar (@Krisplashed) February 23, 2022
There were no surprises, perhaps, but a bit of clarity on Dragic’s side of the situation.
At age 35, Dragic said the Raptors “wanted to go young,” per Alex Schiffer, adding that he had “no hard feelings” for Toronto.
Dragic also cited his relationship with Nets head coach Steve Nash as a key to his signing — as the pair played together on the Phoenix Suns backcourt for four seasons from 2008-12.
Nash said he’s unsure when Dragic will suit up next, as he’ll need some more practice.
Steve Nash said Goran Dragic won’t play tomorrow against Boston. Said he’s been training but needs some practices under his belt. Doesn’t think it will be long. Adds Durant is closer to returning than Simmons but has no hard dates. No update on Joe Harris.
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) February 23, 2022
Dragic added that there were six teams with serious contention for his services but wanted to win a championship with the Nets.
Since the signing, Raptors fans have been quick to point out how Dragic ended up leaving the team for a franchise that, despite high projections, is actually lower than Toronto in the standings. Losing 12 of their last 14 games (including 11 in a row), the Nets sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, two games back of the seventh-seeded Raptors.
Dragic enters a complicated Nets situation, with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond recently joining the roster in exchange for former league MVP James Harden.
Dragic himself could slot into the starting lineup on certain games with unvaccinated star Kyrie Irving currently unable to play home games due to New York City’s COVID-19 restrictions.
As for what the Nets need to do to turn things around?
“No more excuses,” Dragic said.
Raptors’ star Fred VanVleet offered a bit of a parting shot when asked about the addition of Young last week.
“The other guy was sitting at home,” VanVleet said last week in regards to Goran Dragic. “So it wasn’t like we were giving up much.”
With two games against each other next week and the Nets and Raptors set for a dogfight in the NBA’s stretch run, it doesn’t seem like the Dragic saga with Toronto has seen its final chapter just yet.