Goran Dragic Should Make Heat Debut Friday At Knicks
The Miami Heat were the big winners before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline as they acquired Goran Dragic, the reigning Most Improved Player in the league, from the Phoenix Suns for essentially a bunch of garbage and two future first-round draft picks.
Dragic said this week he wanted a trade because he wasn’t happy with his role in Phoenix’s crowded backcourt. The 28-year-old guard’s points and assists are down considerably from last season, when he was third-team All-NBA. He said he doesn’t like his role of “standing in the corner” and wants to go to a team where he can “be a point guard, like in the past I was my whole life.” Dragic averaged 20.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists last year but 16.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds this year.
He made it clear that he wouldn’t re-sign with the Suns when he becomes a free agent after this season. Dragic said he would re-sign for sure with one of three teams if dealt: Miami, New York or the Los Angeles Lakers.
The move addresses the Heat’s greatest area of need as they push for one of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff berths. Dragic was third-team All-NBA last season, arriving as arguably the Heat’s best option at point guard since Tim Hardaway. A core of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng and Dragic seems a sure bet for the playoffs and a group that a higher-seeded teams won’t want to face. How about Miami vs. Cleveland in Round 1? The Heat now must wait until the offseason to re-sign Dragic, who is expected to seek a maximum-level deal.
Going out from the Heat in the three-team deal that also involved the New Orleans Pelicans are two future first-round draft picks, guard Norris Cole, center Justin Hamilton and forwards Shawne Williams and Danny Granger. Cole and Williams subsequently were forwarded to the Pelicans, with Williams expected to be waived by New Orleans. The two first-round picks sent to the Suns will be extended in 2017 and 2021 (the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick is protected through the first 10 selections in the draft, otherwise due to the Philadelphia 76ers).
The Heat visit the Knicks on Friday night and may not have Bosh – thus no opening betting line at TopBet. He didn’t travel with the team to New York due to illness. While there’s a small chance Bosh takes a later flight to meet his teammates, it’s likely that he’s going to sit this one out. Udonis Haslem will have the opportunity to step into the starting lineup if Bosh is indeed ruled out, while Deng will likely get some extended minutes sliding over to the power forward slot.
This is the third of four meetings between the Knicks and Heat this season. New York was defeated 86-79 on Nov. 30, 2014 at the Garden and again 109-95 at AmericanAirlines Arena. New York is looking to snap its five-game losing streak versus the Miami Heat, including two straight at home.
Key betting trends: Heat are 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings. Favorite is 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings. Under is 11-1 in the last 12 meetings in New York.
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