Slovenian basketball player Zoran Dragic, a 25 year old 6'5" shooting guard, has said several times that he wants to go to the NBA if a team can make a solid offer and get him out of his current contract with BC Unicaja, Malaga.
When Marc Stein first reported the Phoenix Suns heavy interest in Zoran, the brother of the Suns best player and third-team All-NBA Goran Dragic, the younger Dragic was just a gleam in the Suns' eye. Then, we right here at Bright Side with our international correspondents reported that Dragic and the Suns were very close to agreeing to a deal.
All along, the big obstacle to coming to the NBA is the buyout of Zoran's current contract and the replacement of his Euro salary.
Because he was undrafted in 2011, there is no limit on what a salary for the younger Dragic could be. His salary would need to be more than $2 million to justify sacrificing $500,000 of his own money in the buyout and walking away from a Malaga contract that would pay him about $1.4 million this year, along with most of his living expenses.
--Paul Coro, azcentral.com and Arizona Republic
The buyout is reportedly $1.1 million US dollars, of which the Phoenix Suns can only contribute $600,000. Zoran would have to produce the other $500,000 himself. Rumor was that Goran would help pay the difference, and Zoran recently told Malaga reporters that the buyout was not prohibitive.
Now, it looks as if the wheels are turning in that direction.
While no specific NBA team has been linked to this latest news, the finalists to add Slovenian player Zoran Dragic were reportedly down to the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers with as many as three other teams showing interest, and anyone can crash the party with a bit more money and a bigger rotation role.
UPDATE: Marc Stein comes through with the intel
Of course, it makes a lot of sense for the Suns to employ Zoran. Beyond the obvious familial and public relations win, the younger Dragic plays the game the way the Phoenix Suns want to play: hard nosed and scrappy. The Suns of last year feasted on that style with older brother Goran and small forward P.J. Tucker leading the way as the Suns surprised the league with 48 wins.
If Zoran has found a consistent three-point shot, the rest of his game should translate well to the NBA. He is a fiesty defender with quick feet and an aggressive style. He disrupts passing lanes and runs the fast break with abandon. And on offense, he can drive to the hoop with his left hand.
Just like when his brother entered the NBA, Zoran cannot drive well to his right and has few counter-moves on offense beyond his bread-and-butter.
But it's really his attitude that will set him apart in the NBA, as long as the NBA skills are workable. P.J. Tucker has done it - becoming a functional NBA starter by maximizing his skills while hounding the opponent and diving to the floor on every loose ball. The Suns could use another one like him.
Let's hope Zoran and Goran will become the Double Dragons.