Suns land Dragic as backup point guard - East Valley Tribune: News

Suns land Dragic as backup point guard

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Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2008 2:57 pm | Updated: 12:08 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Phoenix Suns finally have their backup point guard - and it's the one they wanted all along.

The agent for Goran Dragic, Rade Filipovich, confirmed Sunday that the second-round draft pick has reached a buyout agreement with Spain's Tau Cerimaca, clearing the way for the 22-year-old to join the Suns as Steve Nash's understudy this season.

Filipovich said that Dragic is already on his way to Phoenix to take a physical, which he must pass before a contract agreement - a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth year - can be formally signed. His acquisition would complete the Suns' roster for this season at 13 players, provided D.J. Strawberry's team option for next season is picked up.

"I really feel this is a player who is going to be a Phoenix Sun for a long time, and learning more about his position from Steve Nash will only make him better," Filipovich said. "Goran has been a professional, playing in excess of 90 games a season, and he is much more prepared to play than a collegiate-level player. He is a pure point guard, an excellent defender and a great person that the people of Phoenix will learn to love very quickly."

Dragic's salary will be in excess of the veteran's minimum the Suns were waving at the likes of Tyronn Lue during free agency and will put the Suns further over the NBA's dollar-for-dollar luxury tax.

Dragic's buyout figures to top the $1.5 million that he would have had to pay next year, and the Suns figure to have to pay him more than that so Dragic can pay Tau and still have a salary for this season.

But if Dragic can play 15-20 minutes a night and even work into a position to start on nights when Nash needs a breather, the Suns feel he will be worth the added expense.

As other point guard options signed elsewhere as free agents, the Suns gambled on Dragic, hoping they could get him a year before his official buyout agreement in Europe was in place. And despite many anxious moments and comments to the contrary, the Suns have the player they feel will not only back up Nash, but perhaps replace him down the road.

"I always felt from day one the deal would get done because it was what the player wanted," Filipovich said. "I want to thank the president of the Tau and Geoplin (Slovenia) teams for their role, as well. This doesn't get done without cooperation and a lot of work. (Dragic) is very happy because he didn't want to wait. He wanted the NBA now."

The final two hurdles to Dragic's path to the Suns were removed this week. First, his Slovenian team reached a legal agreement on the percentage of the buyout it would receive from Tau. Then, Tau had to secure a player to fill Dragic's spot on the roster for this season, which they apparently have done, although no announcement has been made.

So while NBA players left and right are heading to Europe to take advantage of the brighter economic picture, the Suns are bringing a player many felt had first-round talent to the NBA a year earlier than expected.

After working out Dragic secretly in Phoenix days before the draft, the Suns traded a second-round pick and $500,000 to move up to the 45th spot in the second round to take a player they claim was good enough to take 30 spots earlier - and someone they said they would have considered if Robin Lopez hadn't been available to them at No. 15.

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