If you knew nothing about basketball and I told you there was a talented NBA point guard named Goran Dragic from the tiny Eastern European country of Slovenia who had a brother named Zoran, you’d have one of two reactions:
1. No, he doesn’t. That’s ridiculous.
2. Of course he does.
Well, it turns out the Phoenix Suns point guard—who was recently honored as the league’s Most Improved Player—does, in fact, have a brother named Zoran, who turns 25 on June 22. And the Houston Rockets might be interested in him, according to a report by EuroHoops.net’s Lefteris Moutis:
A lot of NBA teams follow Zoran Dragic but Houston Rockets are emerging on that race as the front runners. We don’t expect the situation to resolve easily, as Dragic doesn’t want just to travel overseas, but to be a significant member in team which will sign him.
The “situation” Moutis is referring to concerns the kind of tricky buyout hoops through which many an NBA team has had to jump in order to bring their stashed-away talents back across the pond:
Two years ago he signed a contract for 2+2 seasons with Unicaja. The Spaniards want desperately to keep him because he is one of the best players of the team during this season, while his contract is one of the lowest in the team, as he get paid less than 300.000 euros. According to the contract Unicaja has the right to extend it for the next two seasons until the 30th of June. And they will do it. But it’s more than possible this contract to be bought out, as it includes a 500.000 US dollars NBA-out clause.
Yes, those periods are supposed to be commas.
You probably haven’t seen much footage on the younger Dragic, a 6'5" shooting guard who actually pulled a stint on Houston's Las Vegas Summer League squad back in 2012, so I went ahead and fashioned a time machine out of a Yugo and some coat hangers and compiled one for you:
It’s no coincidence the Rockets would be the ones to put their feelers out for the feisty foreigner: Goran Dragic played 88 games as a Rocket between 2011 and 2012 before re-signing as a free agent with the Phoenix Suns—the team that originally drafted him—in 2012.
If any team has heard legends about Zoran scoring 345 points in a game and eating boulders as a halftime snack, it’s the Rockets. What, after all, are brothers for, if not to tell fantastic lies on your behalf?
Goran is coming off of a career season in which he averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists on 51 percent shooting (including 41 percent from distance) in helping lead the Phoenix Suns—a team many predicted to finish dead last in the NBA standings—to within a single game of the playoffs.
As it turns out, it wasn’t the first time Dragic had heard the haters' doubts. Take this gem of a quote, delivered on the occasion of his MIP award ceremony (via Kevin Zimmerman of SB Nation):
"Somebody said that I'm the worst player in the NBA, and my last name should not be Dragic, but 'Tragic,'" Dragic said, referring, purportedly to a swipe once made by ESPN’s John Hollinger. "Every time I was in a practice court, I had this in my mind."
If holding grudges is genetic, don’t be surprised if Zoran—passed over, it seems, for far too long—winds up stateside sooner than later.
If the basketball gene holds true? I for one welcome our new Oran overlords.
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