Dragic might need some breaks as he gets started with Bulls

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Associated Press Goran Dragic, left, is challenged by Poland's Aaron Cel during the Eurobasket match between Slovenia and Poland in Berlin on Wednesday. Dragic, 36, joined the Bulls after logging some heavy minutes for Slovenia at the European Championships.

    Associated Press Goran Dragic, left, is challenged by Poland's Aaron Cel during the Eurobasket match between Slovenia and Poland in Berlin on Wednesday. Dragic, 36, joined the Bulls after logging some heavy minutes for Slovenia at the European Championships.

  • Associated Press Bulls' Goran Dragic, 36, joined the Bulls after logging some heavy minutes for Slovenia at the European Championships.

    Associated Press Bulls' Goran Dragic, 36, joined the Bulls after logging some heavy minutes for Slovenia at the European Championships.

 
 
Updated 9/29/2022 2:02 PM

The oldest player on the Bulls roster, Goran Dragic, might have had the busiest summer.

He joined Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic on the Slovenia national team and logged heavy minutes at the European championships. The run ended on Sept. 14 with a 90-87 loss to Poland in a quarterfinal game in Berlin.

 

"First of all, it was tough," Dragic said. "I retired (from the national team) five years ago and then you get a phone call from Luka and from Rasho Nesterovic, 'Come on, we need you.'

"I was in doubt a little bit to go or not to go, and I said to myself when I look back at my career I always play well when I play for my national team because I was already ready in game shape and everything, so that's why I decided to go."

Dragic, 36, averaged 14.9 points and 28 minutes in seven games at the Euro championships. He did take on a lighter load in the NBA last season, playing in just 21 games between Toronto and Brooklyn.

Back in 2017, Dragic and Doncic led Slovenia to a surprising European championship. Dragic said the Bulls did not discourage him from joining the national team this summer.

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"I feel good physically," he said. "The only thing, I was planning to win a medal, but unfortunately we didn't do it. But it is what it is and now I am here."

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said he's trusting Dragic to make his own judgment when it comes to lightening his workload during training camp.

With Lonzo Ball still shelved by a knee injury, Dragic figures to be an important part of the Bulls' rotation. Besides 14 years in the league, Dragic also has 60 playoff games under his belt and went to the Finals with Miami in 2020.

"We've got to get things in, so we're out here for 2, 2 ½ hours," Donovan said. "I've told him he just needs to make decisions on where he is physically. He's picked his spots, but for the most part he's gone through everything so far."

Of course, Dragic was already famous in Chicago for being on the receiving end of perhaps Derrick Rose's greatest highlight, a high-flying dunk in Phoenix in 2009. That's the dunk that prompted Stacy King's famous "didn't get the memo" rant on the Bulls broadcast. Dragic had a witty monologue planned for that question at media day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Yes, this is my nightmare," Dragic said with a smile. "The funny thing this was the only time somebody dunk on me in my whole NBA career. It's fine. I even talk to Derrick. We were together in Zagreb when we had an Adidas campaign and I came to him and I said 'You had to do it like that?'

"I was young ... my second year in the league. First year I didn't play much, so my second year I started to play a little bit so I had to go for that play. Of course, if I know (how it would turn out) I would never go, but it is what it is. At least I'm on TV all the time."

The Bulls' other veteran newcomer, center Andre Drummond, addressed the issue of fans thinking he's getting old. In fact, he's just 29.

"People think I'm older than what I look," he said. "But I'm definitely very young still, this is a very young team that's hungry and ready to play. It was easy to pick (signing) here.

The No. 9 overall draft pick in 2012, Drummond led the NBA in rebounds during his first eight seasons in the league with Detroit. Since then, he's bounced around from Cleveland, the Lakers, Philadelphia and Brooklyn.

Drummond said he's been pleasantly surprised by how nice the city is, and also gave high marks to Donovan after the opening day of camp.

"You play for Stan Van Gundy, you are prepared for anything," he said. "I practiced for three hours daily, so this was quite relieving for me. Practice was good. I think the intensity was there. Billy definitely hit the nail on the head when we had our meeting of the intensity of this team needs to have."

Optimism on Ball:

The Bulls are confident point guard Lonzo Ball will be able to play at some point this season, according the Athletic. Ball had his second knee surgery, which reportedly went well on Wednesday, and he's reportedly going to be sidelined for at least a few months.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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