Veteran guard Goran Dragic is stepping away from the Toronto Raptors indefinitely to attend to a personal matter, the team announced Sunday. Dragic, 35, has struggled in his first season as a Raptor. He has played in only five games and averaged just eight points on approximately 38 percent shooting. He had previously spent the past six-and-a-half seasons with the Miami Heat before getting sent to Toronto in the Kyle Lowry deal.
“Goran is taking some time away from the team, with our full support, to manage a personal matter,” the team wrote in a statement. “He has been a complete professional in the time that he has been with the Raptors – Goran has been a great mentor to our younger players and a valued teammate for our veterans. He will continue to work out and stay in shape during his time away. There is no definite timeline for this process, and we will advise updates as appropriate. Goran has the backing of Masai, Nick and the entire organization, and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Dragic initially expressed public displeasure at being sent to the Raptors due to their status as a rebuilding team. He eventually warmed up to the idea enough to play for the Raptors, but will now step away from the team. According to Michael Grange of SportsNet, Dragic is likely to remain in Slovenia until the trade or buyout market heats up.
Dragic’s $19.4 million makes a trade difficult. Few of the contending teams that might want Dragic have enough expendable salary to send back in a deal. That means that Dragic would likely need a buyout to play for another team this season. Without him, the Raptors have relied on Svi Mykhailiuk to play more minutes at guard off of the bench and have needed their forwards to absorb more ball-handling responsibility. The Raptors would obviously rather have Dragic on the floor, but for now, they’ll have to move forward without him.