It appears Phoenix Suns' point guard Goran Dragic will figure prominently in a strong free agent class when he opts out of the last season of his contract next summer. The reason he will figure prominently is because he's apparently keeping his options open.

Another month, another Goran Dragic free agency story.

This time Sean Deveney of the Sporting News wrote an article that included (per league sources):

Dragic will have an "open" free agency. When Dragic opts out and becomes a free agent next July, he will be a sought after commodity, and while Phoenix would get the first hearing, Dragic will have options.

This isn't really breaking news... or any kind of logical leap.

What would be the alternative?

"Goran Dragic has said he will not meet with any other teams before re-signing with the Suns."

I mean, really... sources don't have to help us out by stating the completely obvious. Although I was completely blindsided by the suggestion that the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets would be potential suitors... Shocker alert.

This story seems like a palpable and monumental waste of time (as Jim types away at his story reporting on the waste of time), but maybe the Suns should be taking heed of this tocsin. Are these murmurings just phantasmagoria or are they substantive?

I would argue the latter... and there are still things that may compromise Dragic's faithfulness to the Suns.

While Dragic has (repeatedly) expressed his fondness of Phoenix and the Suns organization the business of basketball is still an undeniable part of the equation. Goran is headed toward his last big payday. Dragic has "only" made ~$30 million dollars through his career so far. While that might be a staggering number in ordinary terms it's really not that much in the enchanted realm of the NBA. Goran figures to fetch at least double that number with his next contract.

As Dave King has already reported here on Brightside, the Suns will have no problem paying Goran that kind of money to keep him in Phoenix (cap situation explained in linked article). GM Ryan McDonough has expressed this is the team's desire at this juncture.

"We have every intention of keeping Goran in a Suns' uniform as long as possible. We know he loves Phoenix. There's plenty of money for Goran next year or when it comes up. We fully anticipate taking care of him."

The team already took care (using that as a big time euphemism for last summer) of Eric Bledsoe. After a protracted "negotiation" Eric was given a five year, $70 million dollar contract which was pretty much unanimously considered more than fair.

I'm not asserting that Goran is rapaciously drooling while he slumbers at night gleefully dreaming of pushing around sweaty piles of cash in a wheelbarrow on his way to practice, but I don't think it's any stretch to concede that Dragic has already considered he should get paid on the Bledsoe scale.

While Dragic still contends he will give Phoenix the home field advantage in negotiations next summer, don't expect a home team discount.

Unfortunately, there are already the nefarious possibilities of pitfalls lurking in the shadows of dark corners that could undermine some of the equity the Suns have built with Dragic.

The Suns' logjam in the backcourt has already affected Goran's playing time and production in the early going. If things don't coalesce between the guards this won't cultivate an environment ideal to seducing Goran to return... especially if this results in the team missing the playoffs again.

Dragic has been trying to say the right things, but even in doing so he reveals that he is frustrated. Dragic recently gave a particularly revealing answer to a query on why the team has struggled:

"Because there's only one ball and we're all point guards. That's an easy answer. It's hard. That's sacrifice. If Isaiah's playing well, he's going to stay in. Me and Eric, it depends who is playing better and who is going to be on the court. The other guy is going to be on the bench. It's the way it is. We need to embrace that."

That definitely suggests to me that trouble may be brewing on the horizon. The ramifications of this statement may be mitigated as the trio gains cohesion, but there will never be more than one ball. Of course with a trade there could always be one less point guard. But who would be the odd man out? The $70 million dollar man? The Suns' prize free agent acquisition? This is definitely a complicated situation.

The frustrations over the on-court issues could boil over into another area.

This is (obviously) a contract year for the Dragon. A year after posting 20.3 points and 5.9 assists he is down to 15.6 and 3.2 in the early going. Last season he was third team All-NBA. This season he's been a very average player. If the system in place stymies his production it could cost Dragic millions. If he hasn't thought of it already, he will if things continue along this road.

It's still early now, so expect lots more on this as the season progresses. Let's just hope that the likelihood of re-signing Goran, which has mostly seemed like a Gerald Green slam dunk, doesn't evanesce as it does so... because once money and flattery start flying around this summer the Suns don't want the Dragon to slip through their fingers like an Eric Bledsoe turnover.

Goran Dragic said in September that he hoped to have a quick free agency when he expectedly opts out of his current deal in the summer of 2015. He made it clear that he would be all for returning to...

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The Phoenix Suns are off to a sluggish 6-5 start, despite their playoffs aspirations. Should we be worried at all about how this season is going? Our writers share their opinions.

We are now 11 games into the young Phoenix Suns 2014-2015 season, and the Suns sit at a less than stellar 6-5 despite a home-heavy opening schedule.  The Suns have had some difficulty adjusting to their new three point guard rotation. I think we have a decent enough sample size to start discussing what works and doesn't work for this team so far.  Granted, it's still early, but let's begin.

1. This Suns team is only 6-5, after completing a lousy 2-3 home stand.  Is there any reason to sound the alarms for this team?

Garrett Benson: I don't think so. It's way too early to panic. The Suns have added a major rotation piece in Isaiah Thomas, and it simply takes time to adjust to such a major change. There's going to be growing pains for a while but I just think this team is too talented to play only .500 ball. Once everyone has a better feel for their respective roles and egos are tamed, I think we'll start to see a product that more closely resembles last year's squad. Remember, last year the Suns got off to a 9-9 start.  It took them a while to get going, but then the Suns ripped off a 10-3 record in December. It takes a while for young teams to find their grooves. There's no reason to think that this Suns team won't.

Geoff Allen: No. Many of us predicted this team as a 45-50 win team. We're going to lose games. We're going to lose entirely winnable games. That doesn't mean there is something inherently wrong with the team.

Dave King: There are definitely some warning signs, but nothing that a little time can't resolve. The Suns are still a young team with less NBA experience than most any other NBA team, yet they are fighting for the playoffs. There will be growing pains, some of which are seen in the fight for "mine". My minutes. My stats. My team. My future. Once the newness of the season wears off and it becomes a grind, I think Hornacek will rally the troops back into the all-for-one concept.

Jim Coughenour: It's been a tumultuous start to the season, but I think it's more of a case of growing pains than systemic flaws. For every concern, like the chemistry issues and inconsistency among the team's guards, there is a beacon of hope, like the improvement of Alex Len and (continued in his case) Markieff Morris. The team seems to be muddling along right now, struggling to form an identity... and the Suns are still 6-5. If they can grow and evolve they can still be a force to be reckoned with.

Sean Sullivan:  I'm a believer in the 20 game rule...excluding extreme cases like the Sixers, of course.  I don't think it's time to panic yet...not even close.  For one, the Suns still have a winning record at the moment.  In addition, the Suns are still playing with the rotations and the minutes to see what works best.  We may see some changes in the near future that could change the dynamic of this team without having to make any trades.  There are still a lot of things we don't know about this team yet, and there is no reason to panic this early.

Kellan Olson: I don't know about sounding the alarms, but I'd definitely say that there is some reason for concern. The way this team has been playing and the way they've gone about losing has met some of my lowest expectations for the season. I don't think anyone expected some of these players to look as flat as they sometimes have, and there's still a rotation to figure out. It's still way too early to start sounding alarms though.

2. What is the most glaring issue the Suns have right now?

DK: Settling the rotations. Seems like there's new combinations on the floor every night. Some of that is due to P.J. Tucker's weird season - suspended 4 of the first 11 games now, after the Celtics game - while some is working in the new PG rotation. It will work itself out over time. The players are just too good to stay at .500 all season.

GB: The lack of fire from the starting five is...concerning. They have a lot of trouble opening up games, and Dragic and Bledsoe have had to take a backseat to Gerald Green and Thomas in a few fourth quarters.  The chemistry just doesn't look like it's there yet. These guys are not playing for each other yet, and it's not hard to tell. I went to the game against the Sacramento Kings, and there was a moment when Miles Plumlee and PJ Tucker were yelling and cursing at each other about a defensive lapse on Plumlee's part. Stuff like that, and seeing Bledsoe occasionally pouting, is not what you want to see from a team that had such great chemistry last season. The team needs to start pulling together if they're to meet their playoff aspirations.

GA: I know its probably not the most popular opinion, but I think the play from Plumlee has been a big problem. He just hasn't been as impactful as he was last season. His efficiency isn't a whole lot different from last season, but his rebounding and usage rates are down. This is largely the result of him getting far fewer offensive rebounds. If Plumlee isn't rebounding, he does not fit in with this starting unit.

JC: Establishing roles and building an identity. The addition of Isaiah Thomas has been more ripples than would have been preferred. The strength of the team (guard play) is still finding its way. Now there are three point guards who are used to being primary ball handlers and they need to feel each other out. It's a difficult proposition to learn when to defer and when to be aggressive. The departure of Frye and the recent emergence of Len further complicates a young team that will need some time to develop.

SS: Inconsistency.  I know the easy answer would be to blame the struggles on the loss of Channing Frye, and the inability to find a player to fill that role, but I suspect if you were to replace Keef with Frye in the starting line-up, and replace Tolliver with Keef in the second unit, we would either be in the same boat, or slightly worse off.  I think the inconsistency of the three guards has been the biggest issue so far, with one or two of them seemingly switching it on and back off on a rotating basis.  The good news is that I expect this to be resolved as they continue playing together, and we have already seen some improvement from the starting unit.  The Suns just need to find their rhythm offensively and figure out how to play together, and I think they will.

KO: I would say it's the ball movement on offense. The Suns showed what they can do on Monday, with 30 assists on 48 field goals including at least five from four of the starters. That was against a really poor defense though, and there's no way this team should finish 29th in assists again with the sort of firepower they have on offense. Having three really good point guards in your rotation should fix this, but that's not necessarily the case. Isaiah Thomas has shown that he can bring more playmaking off of the bench at times, but it really is no secret to everyone what he's trying to do when he has the ball and he could bring so much more to this team if he tried to do a little bit more playmaking. Moving the ball around consistently will keep everyone happy and that along with more flow to the offense is good for everyone.

3. Who has been the biggest disappointment to you so far this season? Biggest surprise?

GB: Maybe it was silly to think so, but I was really thinking Anthony Tolliver would be a good fit on the second unit. We haven't seen too much from him yet, and he's only shooting 33% from 3 after a 41% output last season. He's definitely no Channing Frye replacement. Tolliver's shot is slow to get off, and he really hasn't done too much to improve the spacing. Then again, he might just need to get into a groove, as it took him a while to become a regular cog in Charlotte's rotation last year. As far as surprises go, it's got to be Alex Len. He's still just a kid out there but you can really start to see the potential this kid has lately.  That free throw line jump shot is looking pretty nice. If that continues to develop, as well as his rim protection, we might be seeing Alex Len in the starting lineup sometime this season.

GA: Tolliver seems to be the obvious choice for biggest disappointment, but I'll go with Eric Bledsoe. He hasn't looked like a guy you give $70 million dollars to so far. Most disappointing is the fact that his defense really hasn't been there in my eyes. Len seems like he is going to be the obvious choice for biggest surprise, and I'm going to echo that. I expected the team to really, really regret not keeping Earl Barron because I didn't think Len was ready. He has definitely proved me wrong.

DK: I've got to echo Geoff here. The biggest disappointment has to be Eric Bledsoe. He looks like the 15/5/5 guy we thought we were getting last year. The one who can't shoot and can't really run a team but has uber-skills to impact the game in other ways. I think he will come around, but for now he's a disappointment to me. The biggest surprise has to be Alex Len. He looks like a kid with the highest ceiling of any center we've had in Phoenix in, like, forever. He can shoot, score, defend, rebound, protect the rim... and even run and finish his own fast break. Wow.

JC: I am most disappointed in and by P.J. Tucker. He started off the season on suspension, hasn't made a significant impact on the season and managed to get himself suspended again for missing the bus. He's missed the bus on the whole season. Coach Hornacek said in an interview that in his entire playing career he could count on one hand how many times he can remember a player missing a bus. P.J. was supposed to be a leader on this team. It's about time he acts like one and starts to make his presence felt on the court. My biggest surprise has been Goran's slow start. I really thought he was going to build upon last season and stay in the conversation of being an All-Star/All-NBA player. 15 points and three assists a game isn't getting it done. Hopefully he is adjusting and rounding back into form since he had his best game of the season against Boston.

SS:  Tolliver.  I thought he could come in and help space the floor and provide the offense with driving lanes through which the guards could operate, but that simply hasn't been the case thus far.  I don't really blame the struggles on him, specifically, it's just that he hasn't made the impact that I was hoping to see.  The biggest surprise has been Alex Len, who has played above and beyond what I thought he was ready to contribute this season.  He surprises me in almost every game that he plays in, and his emergence could be the deciding factor that gets the Suns into the playoffs this year, if he can stay healthy.

KO: I have to go with Tolliver on the disappointment. I saw him in the preseason and like a couple of other people on this site believed that he could start the opener. It's been a really rough start to the season for him, and if he can't hit threes there's no purpose in him being on the floor unfortunately. The biggest surprise is easily Alex Len. I've been one of the biggest naysayers on that draft and it looks like he is going to prove me wrong. He's a confident player who stays active on both ends and really understands how to use his length. I honestly might have freaked out more about his elbow jumper Monday than his breakaway slam. Len is 10% better than Plumlee on contested rebounds and players shoot 6% worse when Len is defending them instead of Plumlee. I didn't think we would be at a point this season where we'd start thinking about a new starting center and new options at power forward off the bench (T.J.?), but here we are.

4. Who needs to step up their game on this team, and in what way?

GB: I think it's some sort of combination of Bledsoe, Dragic, and Coach Hornacek. Dragic needs to be the guy on this team, and Hornacek needs to find more ways to give Dragic that opportunity, whether that means getting him the ball more often or playing him more minutes. An All-NBA third teamer should not be playing second or third fiddle to two other point guards. Bledsoe, on the other hand, really needs to start playing like $70 player. His defense will keep him in the starting lineup, but he's turning over the ball way too much at this point and hasn't looked like the guy that was ripping off 30 point/near triple double outings at the end of last season. He's probably not ecstatic to be losing minutes to Thomas at the end of games, but Hornacek needs to find a way to bring balance and cohesion to his point guard unit.

DK: It's Bledsoe and Dragic - the original Slash Brothers. And the entire starting lineup, overall. Seems like the returning players have come in this year with a hangover. Give them a bloody mary and let's get going!

GA: I think its Hornacek, to be honest. The Suns have an overabundance of rotation players, and Hornacek's policy of sticking with the hot hand, while useful early in the season, seems like it could wear thin. Great coaches determine who in the rotation is going to play big minutes based off of matchups, previous performances, and a lot of deep game tape evaluation. It seems like the coaching staff wasn't as prepared as they should have been about how they were going to manage minutes.

JC: Bledsoe, Dragic and Plumlee. I think there should be a rule somewhere that players with $70 million dollar contracts aren't allowed to score one point in a game. Then it felt like Goran went about half a month without hitting a three (because he did). I have been consistently underwhelmed by the play of Dragic and Bledsoe. I think Isaiah, Gerald Green and Markieff Morris have had more to do with us still being above .500 than Goran and Eric. It shouldn't be that way. Those two need to take charge and get their shit together. Miles, meanwhile, has regressed from a 12/12 per 36 to a 9/9 per 36 and has games where he's basically an empty jersey. I guess the benefit of that is Len getting extra playing time. Either way, the Suns are thin up front and need contributions from both of them.

SS: Bledsoe and Dragic.  This team goes as they go.  Although the Suns won a couple of games on the backs of Isaiah and Green, they were never meant to carry the load...only to help complement the already potent scoring attack of Bledsoe and Dragic.  On the bright side, both have been improving and stepping up recently, so hopefully this is a sign of better things to come.

KO: I think it's Bledsoe, Dragic, and Hornacek. I echo everyone's points on the rotation, as it's not even close to where it needs to be and that's not even touching on the ball distribution. Dragic needs to have the ball more and Hornacek needs to figure out how to balance out the rotation.

5. Is there a trade in the future of this Suns team?

GB: It's probably way too early to consider, but I have to think it'll be a possibility if things don't improve. There's a huge logjam at the wing positions, which is only further exacerbated by playing three point guards. There's really no backup power forward outside of Tolliver, so that's a pretty big hole. I'd hate to see it happen, but it's not totally out of the realm of possibility that we see one of the three point guards get traded if things don't click eventually. I really hope that doesn't happen, and that this team finds a way to make things work smoothly.

GA: As a direct result of .500 level play? No. Any trade that emerges before the All-Star break will not be as a result of winning half of the team's games, but instead will arise out of prepared plans to trade a player or an opportunity arising spontaneously. I've said all along Green has a strong chance of being traded this season. The only guy who could potentially be traded because of starting out poorly is Anthony Tolliver, but this is more because his contract, which is only guaranteed for $400,000 next season, is a nice expiring that will be enticing to teams looking for potential salary cap relief. If he can't get things under control shooting wise and falls out of the rotation, he has a strong chance of being moved.

DK: I hate discussing trades when it's not trade season. Sure, trades happen any time. But nearly all of the Suns key rotation players just signed contracts in the off season making them unavailable for trades until January. Wait for January/February please.

JC: I sure hope so. I really don't think that Ryan McDonough is the type to panic and rush to judgment that he's failed in assembling this team... frittering off his assets in an attempt to cut his losses. He's looking long term. Any trade he executes will be one that involves the pantsing of a competing team's foolish general manager. Dude's dealing from a position of strength, not a position of weakness... because McMiracle. So yeah, I'll take me some trades.

SS: Yes.  However, I don't know who or what for.  Going into this season, the popular opinion was that Green would be traded before the deadline, and that Goodwin would be able to step in and contribute.  That hasn't happened.  If anything, Green has shown just how important he is to this team...at least for now.  I can't see the Suns trading him away just to get something for him before he becomes a free agent in the offseason.  However, I do think the Suns will make a move at some point before the trade deadline...I'm just not sure who they would look to move.

KO:I thought there was at the start of the season unless the Suns got off to an amazing start so I'll still say there is. Like Dave said though, we will have to wait.

Gerald Green hates the Pistons.

FanDuel Tourney tonight!

First things first. The first SB Nation FanDuel tournament of this season is set up. Go here and join now.

Then when you're done, post your lineup in the comment section. And on social media, use the hashtag #FanDuelSBN to brag about lineup.

I guess it's ok to read the Phoenix Phantasy Phix phirst. You know me, I won't clown your lineup. Others might, but you know I won't. If you win you have to promise to purchase something from Suns Swag this Friday though. It's $2 to enter for the first 110 entries, top 24 get paid.

If you are not already a member of FanDuel click here and you'll get a 100% first time matching deposit bonus ($200 max) to exclusive to SB Nation readers.

Phantasy Phix

Ok, so we're on game three of a seven game road trip as the Suns meet Detroit, Philadelphia, and Indiana for the first time this season. We'll give you a look at the winners and losers from last season's matchups.

Who Loves The Pistons?

If he can be sure to catch the team bus, Detroit could be a pleasant stop on the road trip for P.J. Tucker. Last season, Tucker had arguably his best game of the season against the Pistons. On January 11th, he tallied 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in just under 42 minutes, the most time he logged all season.

Who Hates The Pistons?

Detroit was a chilly destination for Gerald Green last season. In Phoenix's first matchup with the Pistons, Green shot 5 of 17 from the field and 1 of 7 from three for 15 points in 33 minutes. Back in Phoenix in March, he hit 4 of 12 field goals and 1 of 5 from behind the arc for 12 points off the bench. Following a game against Boston in which Green shot 3 of 12, 1 of 4, and did not get to the line, maybe this isn't the game where he gets back on the right track.

Who Loves The 76ers?

Miles Plumlee. In fact, Plum's top offensive performance of last season came against the Sixers. December 28th he scored 22 points on 10 of 14 shooting and ripped down 13 rebounds. His other game against Philly was impressive as well, 14 points and 13 boards, 6 on the offensive side.

Who Hates The 76ers?

Hate might be a strong word, but Isaiah Thomas didn't have his best shooting games against Philadelphia last season. I.T. shot 7 of 18 in the first game, 4 of 10 in the second. He still topped 20 in both contests thanks to three point shooting and an 11 of 12 performance from the free throw line. Still, from the field he fell short of his 45.3% season average.

Who Loves The Pacers?

The Dragon's a fan. On January 22nd in Phoenix, Goran Dragic poured in 21 on 8 of 10 shooting. Eight days later in Indianapolis, Dragic scored 28 to lead all scorers, with 7 dimes versus 2 turnovers. Both games were Phoenix wins, against a Pacers team that at the time had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Who Hates The Pacers?

Not a lot to share from the last season's box scores. The two games the Suns played against Indiana were two of the most complete games they played all season. At the time, that Pacers team may have been the best in the NBA. This year they are not. Saturday's game is one we need to win.

Who Loves The Suns?

Andre Drummond logged a pair of double doubles against the Suns last year. 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting and 13 rebounds in game one, 13 points on 5 of 7 and 16 boards in game two.

Michael Carter-Williams torched a lot of teams last season, including the Suns. Last December Carter-Williams hit 12 of 28 shots for 27 points against Phoenix, his fourth highest scoring output of the season.

Roy Hibbert. The most points he scored against a team not named the Philadelphia 76ers last season was the 26 he put on the Suns January 22nd.

Who Hates The Suns?

Greg Monroe, the almost Sun, didn't have a great game the last time he met Phoenix. 6 of 16 from the field, before he fouled out after 31 minutes in a 6 point loss last March.

Roy Hibbert. The second game against Phoenix didn't go nearly as well. 6 points and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes. Ouch.

Editors Note: Nobody with the Sixers has actually be in the league long enough to know if they hate playing against the Suns or not. Very few are even aware there's a team in Phoenix.

Back to fantasy land!

Sign up for this tourney. It's really cool. It's just one day. If you do badly, you get a clean slate again tomorrow. Go here and join now.

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The box score may have been a mirror image for the Suns and Celtics by the end of their battle Monday night, and it’ll have Jeff Hornacek and Brad Stevens both searching for answers on the...

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