Two weeks after the end of the NBA finals in which his Miami Heat lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, with him watching from the bench due to a foot injury, Goran Dragić says he sees himself in basketball at a high level for another three to four years, with the current team being at the top of his wish-list.
Speaking with Slovenian journalists via videoconference after returning to his homeland, the 34-year-old said that the Miami Heat would be the best option considering that he had spent his last five seasons there.
Dragić’s five-year, US$90 million contract with the club from Florida has expired, and he is aware that Miami Heat president Pat Riley is in for a tough task as four more team-mates saw their contracts expire after this season.
“Despite the injury I suffered in the finals, I feel young enough and ready to play in the NBA for a few more years. My wish is to stay in Miami, but since I’m a professional, I will respect the club’s decision,” he said.
Dragić will enter talks with the Miami Heat and other potential employers on 1 December, with the Slovenian veteran point guard saying that in the case of him leaving Miami, he would look for a team with the highest ambitions.
“My dream is the championship ring, i.e. the NBA championship title,” said Dragić, who was closest to the promised land this season, but suffered the plantar fasciitis injury in the first game of the finals and never returned to action.
The foot injury has not fully healed yet, but Dragić says he is progressing on the daily basis. “I will need a few more weeks. Doctors’ opinions differ – some say that the rehab may take two months, and some say it may take even more.”
Dragić added that, in any case, he had enough time to get rested, heal all injuries and start preparing himself for the new NBA season, which is planned to start sometime in the second half of December.
He is very proud of the past season, although it has ended with a bit of a bitter aftertaste, as he was not the only Miami Heat player to suffer an injury in the final series with the Lakers.
“There will always be what if… My opinion is that if we played in the finals with the full squad, we could have beaten the Lakers. We played well against the best teams during regular season, and we became even more confident entering the bubble in Orlando.”
Dragić, who ended the season with the averages of 16.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, praised the idea and organisation of the isolation zone at the Walt Disney World resort, where he spent 92 days and, consequently, had to undergo 92 coronavirus tests.
“We were enclosed in the bubble, but we also had enough free time for various activities. I hanged out a lot with Jimmy Butler, who is a great guy, so we established great team chemistry, which helped us succeed,” he said.
Immediately after the last game of the finals, Dragić hopped on a plane and travelled to Slovenia, where his family was waiting for him.
“Of course, we heard and saw each other by video, but when I saw the kids after three months, I was a bit quite surprised with how much they have changed and grown.”
The former captain of the Slovenian basketball team also talked about his charity work. In addition to the basketball camp for children from disadvantaged families, he is also financing refurbishment of outdoor basketball courts around Slovenia.
The next in line is Maribor, which will get an outdoor basketball court equipped with all modern technology available.