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Getty Goran Dragic reacts during the 2017 EuroBasket Final between Slovenia and Serbia.

Earlier this summer, Chicago Bulls signee Goran Dragic made a surprising return to international competition with the Slovenian national team. In an effort to help his nation qualify for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, he played in two games and averaged 19.

5 points and 2.5 assists while shooting 48% from the field.

As a result, the Slovenians were able to secure a spot in the second round of qualification, which is slated to tip off later this month.

It was an incredibly successful comeback to FIBA play for Dragic, who hadn’t suited up for Slovenia in five years. And even as he’s not expected to be with the team for the next round of qualifiers, the 36-year-old baller apparently isn’t ready to settle back into retirement from the national program.

Per a social media post from the man himself, Dragic will be wearing his country’s jersey again in another major tournament that’s right around the corner.

Dragic: ‘I’m Back’ Play
Goran Dragic 19 Points vs Croatia | FIBA World Cup QualifyingGoran Dragic had 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists against Croatia in FIBA World Cup Qualifying. SUBSCRIBE: youtube.com/channel/UCkMjP6jSfMW7uuzfWLqdomA?sub_confirmation=12022-06-30T20:58:47Z

On Friday, Dragic — who was an NBA All-Star back in 2018 as a member of the Miami Heat — took to Instagram to make a relatively straightforward proclamation — “I’m back.”

That caption accompanied a snap that was taken in the wake of the 2017 EuroBasket final which saw Slovenia beat out Serbia for the gold medal. Dragic also tagged Europe’s premiere hoops tournament in the post, indicating that he would be returning to the event in September.

Dragic suiting up again in EuroBasket competition is significant for two reasons. Firstly, that 2017 final was his previous FIBA swan song, and he finished it as the competition’s Most Outstanding Player. Secondly, the tourney win yielded the country’s first-ever international basketball gold.

So, there’s a significant amount of history for the Bulls guard there. Whether history can repeat itself remains to be seen, though.

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Slovenia Has a Hard Road Ahead

Slovenia may be currently be holding down the fifth spot in the FIBA world rankings, and the Dragic-Luka Doncic pairing is a formidable one, but it could nonetheless be tough sledding for the nation on the road to another gold.

The team finds itself in a difficult Group B alongside such luminaries as France, Lithuania and Germany. Moreover, a run to the final game would see Slovenia playing nine times in 19 days. So, to say that it’s going to be a grind for Dragic and Co. is probably underselling the situation.

On the plus side, the extra run could pay dividends for Dragic, who spent much of last season on the sidelines/in limbo as a member of the Toronto Raptors before getting his cup of coffee with the Brooklyn Nets down the stretch.

If he can show that he’s still a consistent performer internationally, that should bode well for his ability to play a considerable role for the title-chasing Bulls in 2022-23.

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NBA Drama Reopens Door For Warriors Acquisition of 12-Time All Star

Getty Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors look on during Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors brass have made it clear they like the roster they have but staying “lightyears ahead” of the competition, as owner Joe Lacob once described the franchise, means never leaving good enough alone.

The Warriors were good enough last season to win a fourth title in eight years. They were also good enough to earn back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2015-16 and win a championship, but that didn’t stop them from signing Kevin Durant and creating arguably the best team in the history of the sport. So what’s different now?

Clearly, some things have changed. Everyone is older, everyone commands more money, but the championship window in Golden State remains wide open, and the franchise’s stalwart trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain in Warriors uniforms.

The Dubs appear to be thinking more about the future, while also caring deeply about the present, than perhaps was necessary when they acquired Durant the first time around six years ago. That philosophical shift has led to a protective position on young assets like James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, which is what initially shut down the notion of the Dubs doing a deal for Durant earlier this summer.

But the door to Durant has been kicked violently ajar once again by the player himself, following a meeting with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai over the weekend, and the details of that interaction may have lit a fire under New York City’s second franchise to move the 12-time All Star.

That isn’t to say that the Nets’ price for a generational player like Durant will suddenly drop off a cliff, but it could stumble enough that it’s worth it to the Warriors to at least inquire again about getting the old band back together.

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Durant Gives Nets Owner Ultimatum, Opens New Trade Possibilities

GettyDraymond Green (left) and Kevin Durant (right) chat during a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets.

Trade talk surround Durant had died down to a whisper until it was resurrected with a fury on Monday, August 8, by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

In a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, Kevin Durant reiterated his trade request and informed Tsai that Tsai needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, sources say.

Story: https://t.co/W1voNf9MDC

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 8, 2022

“In a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, Kevin Durant reiterated his trade request and informed Tsai that Tsai needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, sources say,” Charania tweeted.

In his story, Charania goes on to note that sources said Durant “does not have faith in the team’s direction.” The irony of that statement aside, as it was Durant whose hand was probably strongest on the steering wheel of the Nets’ franchise over the previous three years, the former Warriors’ superstar has clearly upped the ante in his strongest push yet to get clear of Brooklyn.

Warriors Among Teams Best Positioned to Deal For Durant

Getty/Eric EspadaJonathan Kuminga (left) of the Golden State Warriors embraces teammate Anthony Wiggins (right) on the sideline during a game against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida.

Durant named the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat as his two preferred destinations when he made the initial trade request at the end of June.

Regardless of what Durant might want, however, the two teams best positioned to give the Nets the kind of return they seek are the Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans. If the Warriors decide to take a swing, the cost will be steep. And it will hurt, both the organization’s future prospects and its current fan base, as they will have to say goodbye to multiple fan favorites.

What the deal would look like exactly is unclear. It would certainly include first-round draft compensation, probably more than one pick, which the Warriors can accomodate. It would also take young players, at least two from the group including Wiseman, Kuminga, Jordan Poole and Moses Moody.

And finally, Andrew Wiggins would have to be part of the deal to make the salaries matchup. Durant carries a $47.6 million cap hit in 2022-23, and Wiggins’ $33.6 million salary next season is the only contract the Dubs could use to get enough money up without moving Curry, Thompson or Green — all of whom would likely be non-starters if requested as part of a Durant trade.

The Warriors have acquiesced to the reality that they will probably be forced to part with at least one of Thompson, Green, Wiggins or Poole next offseason due to financial reasons. That departure will likely come as part of a trade so that Golden State doesn’t lose the asset for nothing.

There is something to be said then for the idea of moving two of them, likely Wiggins and Poole, for Durant and recycling last decade’s super team all over again.

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