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Goran Dragic Celtics

(Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)

Report: Boston Celtics were ‘pissed’ that Goran Dragic signed with Bucks

Goran Dragic Celtics
(Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)

Report: Boston Celtics were ‘pissed’ that Goran Dragic signed with Bucks

On the last day of February, the Chicago Bulls announced that they had waived veteran guard Goran Dragic ahead of the March 1 playoff-eligibility deadline for all players who were bought out. Just days later, Dragic signed with the Milwaukee Bucks, an Eastern Conference contender, something that rival Boston Celtics were reportedly unhappy about.

According to Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports, an Eastern Conference executive told him that Boston was “pissed” because of the newfangled depth that Milwaukee had with Jae Crowder and then Dragic, who both signed via the buyout market.

“They’re one of the teams pissed that the [Chicago] Bulls let Goran Dragic go because now, with Jae Crowder, the Bucks just have all this depth at every spot,” an Eastern Conference executive said, via Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports. “If you go back to the Christmas game, the Celtics have always felt good about what they can do against Milwaukee. But now, Milwaukee has this extra layer of flexibility they can throw at the Celtics, a guy who can surprise you and play 20 or 25 minutes and help you win a game.

“Boston is a lot more predictable,” the exec said. “They’re not going to play Luke Kornet for 20 minutes in a playoff game. But Dragic, he could be a game-changer at some point in the playoffs.

“Mostly, the Celtics are worried about themselves,” said the executive. “They are their own worst enemy so many times—you saw it in the Finals last year. They’ve been playing that way a lot more lately, just not moving the ball, getting stuck in hero ball – all of that. That is their big problem, and they’re still not out of it.”

Full quotes here.

Boston and Milwaukee have jostled for the No. 1 seed in the East all season, though Milwaukee has slowly began to pull away. Milwaukee is 2.5 games ahead of its counterpart at 49-19, having won eight of its last 10 and 21 of its last 24. Boston, on the other hand, has treaded water over its last 10 (5-5), including losing a lethargic game to the last-place Houston Rockets, 111-109.

The Celtics also have one of the most established eight-man rotations in basketball, assuming everyone’s healthy. Milwaukee will typically operate with a deeper bench, but that hasn’t come close to including Dragic.

The 36-year-old guard wasn’t playing much of a role in his first year with the Bulls, averaging 6.4 points with 2.7 assists in 15.4 minutes per game. He has yet to appear in a game with Milwaukee in the week-and-a-half he’s been apart of the team.

Perhaps some of the frustration stems from the individual playoff success Dragic’s had against Boston. When he was apart of the Brooklyn Nets last year, Dragic was one of its better players — averaging 10.5 points on 63.9 percent true-shooting in 19.8 minutes — despite the Nets getting swept anyways. The Dragon was also Miami’s second-best player against Boston — behind Bam Adebayo — when the Heat downed the Celtics in six games in the 2019-20 Eastern Conference Finals.

Maybe Mike Budenholzer is holding his cards to his chest and waiting for the postseason to showcase Dragic in some George Hill-esque role. But it’s still quite unusual the Celtics were upset over a veteran piece who 1.) they wouldn’t have signed and 2.) isn’t in the Bucks’ rotation, and likely won’t be for the foreseeable future.


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