Goran Dragic on FA: 'All the doors are open'

April, 11, 2012
4/11/12
2:30
PM ET
"All that Jeremy Lin backlash in February, when Daryl Morey tweeted that it was a mistake to let Lin get away, seems forgotten considering the point guards he has and the moves he made to get them. If [Goran] Dragic turns out to be special, as he appears to be, and is allowed to walk, the heat would be much greater."

Those were the words from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Rockets beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, in a column he wrote on Tuesday.

The biggest issue offensively concerning the Knicks' right now is their lack of scoring beyond Carmelo Anthony, and that would be greatly improved with a proven point guard executing pick-and-rolls to perfection, which would space the floor well and provide players more open looks. But, of course, Baron Davis is not 100 percent healthy and Jeremy Lin is likely out for the rest of the regular season.

Even if Lin does return for the first or second round of the playoffs, the open wound at point guard won't be fully healed and it will bleed into the offseason, considering Lin is a restricted free agent and Davis is unrestricted.

While the Knicks will likely first offer Lin a one-year or long-term, mid-level deal worth $5 million per year, and perhaps the same for Steve Nash (unrestricted), don't count out Houston Rockets point guard Goran Dragic (unrestricted).

After playing well with the Phoenix Suns for three seasons as Nash's backup, he started as a sub in Houston. But since Kyle Lowry has been resting, after undergoing an abdominal diagnostic laparoscopic procedure on March 10, Dragic has exploded on to the scene -- just like Lin did. However, playing in the No. 1 media market helped Lin become a global phenomenon. Dragic, still, has hardly gotten any national attention, already a month into his sudden surge.

As a starter over 17 games, Dragic has averaged 18.2 points and 8.7 assists per game, while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from 3-point range. During that stretch, as the sixth-seeded Rockets have gone 11-6 (including a current four-game winning streak), he has drawn rave reviews from opposing coaches, who consider him the real deal.

"I told the guys," Portland Trail Blazers interim head coach Kaleb Canales said on April 9, "I think he's kind of playing a little bit like how [Manu] Ginobili looks out there to me."

Dragic is playing so well, he's likely playing his way out of Houston, as one reporter who covers the team believes. While Dragic enjoys playing for the Rockets, he said anything is possible in the offseason. A source, who is familiar with Dragic's situation, said that the point guard would listen to the Knicks, if there was interest, because "every player in the league is dying to play for this organization."

"All the doors are open," Dragic said. "We're going to see what is going to happen this summer. I feel great in Houston. Hopefully, I'm going to stay in Houston. I want to be a starter."

That last part is the key sticking point. Even if Dragic remains a starter this season after Lowry potentially returns this weekend, Lowry, who was balling before he went down (15.4 points, 7.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game), is signed through 2014. So Dragic will likely resume a bench role in 2012-13.

For that reason, the Knicks' open slot at starting point guard should be attractive to Dragic. The Knicks need someone who can run pick-and-rolls to benefit Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire -- in fact, STAT played with Dragic in Phoenix from 2008 to '10 -- and Dragic can run them effectively. In fact, most of the Rockets' offense is predicated on that play.

And if there's any worry that Dragic can't D up, especially if Mike Woodson returns next season, he can do that, too. As a starter, he's been averaging 2.0 steals per game.

Based on what Lin and Dragic did this season, they'll both be two of the hottest point guards on the market. For Dragic, he can already feel the pressure of where people want him to sign.

"It was a little bit different," Dragic said after finishing with 22 points and seven assists on April 9, leading the Rockets past the Trail Blazers. "Before, they never asked me this type of questions, 'Are you going to come to Portland?'

"It's going to be a crazy summer for me. Still, I have to get every game, try to be focused, play hard and try to make playoffs with Houston Rockets. What is going to happen after the season, we'll see."

Of course, the Knicks' biggest hurdle is financially -- not just with Dragic, but with Lin potentially, too. Considering they're locked up in massive salaries with Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, they don't have much wiggle room. And the NBA does not allow player contracts to be rewritten so that teams can make room for other players.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2