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Goran Dragic apologizes to Raptors fans

Goran Dragic at Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 03: Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat greets Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors after the game at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 3, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

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Goran Dragic, sent from the Heat to the Raptors in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade, said: Toronto is not my preferred destination. I have higher ambitions. We’ll see.

Dragic, via Michael Grange of Sportsnet:
“My message basically, to all Toronto fans, is I would like to apologize. It didn’t come out the right way. I know they love their team, and they should be proud, it is one of the best organizations in the NBA. They’ve already won a championship and I didn’t, so what I said, it really was not appropriate,” said Dragic.

“I was in the centre of the city and the journalists were there and I was asked about Toronto and it was basically taken out of context.

“I told them that I had spent seven years in Miami and that would be the preferred destination for me because my family is there and everything, not Toronto.”

“I love basketball, I love to play and I’m going to give 100 per cent wherever I play. Right now I’m [with] Toronto and that’s my main thing to think about.”

In 2015, Dragic publicly blasted the Suns as he pushed for a trade to the Heat. He later expressed regret for the tactic, though only after getting to Miami.

It doesn’t sound like Dragic is willing to go scorched earth again.

But he holds limited leverage otherwise. He’s on an expiring $19.44 million contract, and Toronto isn’t rushing to trade him or buy him out.

That said, the Raptors also know Dragic (35) doesn’t fit their long-term vision. They should look to trade him to a team that values him more, which would almost certainly be a team closer to winning big.

However, Dragic could help Toronto make the playoffs. The Raptors’ younger core of Scottie Barnes (20), OG Anunoby (24), Fred VanVleet (27) and probably/maybe Pascal Siakam (27) is way too good to tank. Dragic could slide into Lowry’s spot in the lineup.

For what it’s worth, Dragic can’t return to Miami this season by rule because the Heat just traded him. But it doesn’t sound like Toronto is his second choice.

Still, he’s trying to make an unideal situation at least tolerable.