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Is Suns' Goran Dragic a good fit for Knicks' triangle offense?

New York Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni and center

New York Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni and center Jason Smith pressure Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic in the first half of an NBA game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Goran Dragic and the Suns had difficulty defending the triangle offense . . . in practice, that is.

"Coach Jeff [Hornacek] was kind of funny," Dragic said before Saturday's game. "We couldn't stop the triangle and he said, 'Maybe we should run that.' "

Dragic running the point in the triangle offense? Perhaps that thought crossed the mind of Phil Jackson Saturday as he watched the Suns defeat the Knicks, 99-90.

Dragic, who was quiet Saturday with 10 points and two assists, is expected to opt out of his $7.5-million player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks, who dropped to 5-24 Saturday, will have money to spend and needs to fill.

"Every team that is going to be available is going to be an option," Dragic said. "New York has a great base of fans, great basketball organization. In the past few years, they didn't play so well, but like I said before, that luck can change quickly."

But could adding Dragic to the Knicks' offense be like trying to fit an expensive square peg in a triangular hole?

The 28-year-old Slovenian can create off the dribble and get to the rim, but those aren't required skills when running the triangle, a read-and-react system predicated on spacing and player and ball movement. Dragic can shoot from the outside, which generally is one of Jackson's preferred qualifications.

Dragic shot 41 percent from three-point territory last season. He averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists en route to earning the Most Improved Player award and third-team All-NBA honors.

He has spent most of his career in the Suns' up-tempo offense and said the only familiarity he has with the triangle is playing against Jackson's Lakers.

"But we are basketball players," he added, referring to the ability to adapt to new offenses.

His numbers are down this season -- 16.2 points and 4.2 assists entering Saturday's game -- in a point guard-heavy offense that has forced him to play off the ball at times.

The Suns created a logjam at the position after giving an extension to Eric Bledsoe and signing free agent Isaiah Thomas.

Those two attacked the rim at will Saturday and the Knicks were unable to stop their penetration as Bledsoe recorded 25 points and 10 rebounds and Thomas added 22 points.

"Penetration is the problem every night," Derek Fisher said. "Everybody gets excited about teams making threes, but if you don't stop penetration, you don't have a chance."

Added Bledsoe: "That's what they got us here for. The three-headed monster."

The play of Bledsoe and Thomas Saturday almost made Dragic seem expendable. If he is dealt before the deadline, or if he stays and the Suns do not re-sign him, the Lakers and Rockets have been rumored as potential landing spots.

The Knicks have Jose Calderon, who tied his season high with 21 points Saturday, under contract until 2017. So they might opt to make a large financial commitment to a big man -- namely Calderon's fellow Spaniard, Marc Gasol -- rather than pay Dragic the $15 million per year he could command.

"It's still early to talk about that right now," Dragic said. "In the offseason, I'm going to probably sit down with my family first and my agent and try to explore all the options."

And as for the Suns' defense against the triangle after struggling with it in practice?

"I think we did a good job in the third and fourth quarter," Dragic said. "And that's why we could close out the game."


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