20 May A Family Affair: Brothers playing for the Same NBA Team
Last week, the Phoenix Suns signed Slovenian shooting guard Zoran Dragic to a two year contract reportedly worth around $4M. Dragic was one of the vital cogs in Slovenia’s national team which participated in the recent 2014 FIBA basketball World Cup. But it wasn’t just his basketball skills that made Phoenix want to bring him to the NBA.
My Brother’s keeper
25 year old Zoran Dragic is the younger brother of Goran Dragic, the Suns’ breakout star of 2014. Goran averaged 20.8 points, 3.2, 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game in what was easily the best year of his NBA career. His Suns finished 48-34 last season and were one win shy of tying the Dallas Mavericks for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. For his feats, Goran was named as the NBA’s 2014 Most Improved Player award and bested the likes of Lance Stephenson and Anthony Davis.
However, 28 year old Goran is expected to opt out of his contract on July 2015 and catch is that the Suns are reportedly hoping that having little brother Zoran on board helps Goran stay in the Valley of the Suns. That idea was quickly dispelled by Suns GM Ryan McDonough via foxsports.com on 10.01.14:
I’ve been watching him play for a long time, going back to the U18 Championships in Madrid. I think it really started last year when Coach (Jeff) Hornacek and I traveled to Slovenia for the European Championships. Jeff and I were there to see Goran primarily, but over the course of the five games we watched Slovenia play, Zoran really caught our eye.
Zoran does have game, it’s just not as good as Goran-at least not yet. But one thing’s sure here, having Zoran in Phoenix gives the Suns an added edge in re-signing the Dragon next year.
After signing Zoran Dragic, the Suns were not done. They took brotherhood to another level by re-signing twins Markeiff and Marcus Morris to four year contracts. The twins have virtually played basketball together, playing on the same high school and collegiate teams. The 2011 NBA draft separated them by one pick: Markieff was picked by the Suns at #13 and Marcus at #14 by the Rockets. In 2013, the Suns traded for Marcus and now they have the twins locked for another four years with an unusual contract. As reported by Forbes.com on 9.30.14, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said this:
I did something I’ve never done before. Once we agreed on the amount of money, I gave them the first crack at how to divide it up. I didn’t want there to be any disconnect.
Based on their on-court performance, Markeiff was valued at $8M per year while Marcus was pegged at $5M per annum. Here was what Markeiff said via the same article by Forbes.com:
“It didn’t matter if it was me getting $5 million and Mook [Marcus] getting $8 million. We told them it didn’t matter. If they just put $13 [million] a year for the Morris twins, that would’ve been great. They wouldn’t even have to say our names … We’re $52 million players.
Having them say that the contract is “great” would do much for their 2015 season. The twins each enjoyed the best years of their careers in 2013-14: Markieff did 13.8 points and 6 rebounds per game while Marcus went for 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per outing. The twins are 25 and are entering their prime. Having them this happy is good for the Suns basketball future.
The New city of Brotherly Love
The title of being the “City of Brotherly Love” has always been bestowed upon Philadelphia. But what the Suns did this offseason, could change that- at least in the NBA setting only. But while the Suns have the distinction of the first team to have two sets of brothers playing on the same NBA team, having siblings on the same squad has happened in the NBA’s past although they’ve been a rarity. Let’s look at them one by one:
1. Stephen Curry and Seth Curry in Golden State
Officially, this tandem did not play a regular season game together. Undrafted Seth Curry was signed to a non-guaranteed contract on August 23, 2013 and waived just before the start of the regular season. He played in six pre-season game though, and averaged 2.2 points and 1 assist in 7.2 minutes of playing time. Seth has recently signed with the Orlando Magic while Stephen is enjoying incredible success with “another” brother-his splash brother Klay Thompson.
2. Tyler Hansborough and Ben Hansborough in Indiana
This brother pairing did play together in the NBA. In fact, we have a clip from the 2012-13 season when Tyler stood up for his little brother after a hard elbow from the opponent. Watch this:
Ben Hansborough played just 28 games for the Indiana Pacers in 2012-13 while older brother Tyler was a key reserve on that squad. Tyler Hansborough is now with the Toronto Raptors while Ben is now with the Chicago Bulls.
3. Mark Price and Brent Price in Washington
Mark Price is better known for teaming up with Brad Daugherty in the first glory days of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But in 1995, the Washington Bullets traded the 12th pick of the 1996 draft for an aging Mark Price because their point guard Scott Skiles left for Orlando. However, Price succumbed to injuries and played a total of seven games that season before packing his bags to the Golden State Warriors the following season. His brother Brent ended up starting 50 games for the Bullets that season.
4. Dominique Wilkins and Gerald Wilkins in Orlando
We all best remember Dominique Wilkins as the Human Highlight Film in Atlanta. We also vividly recall his brother Gerald Wilkins as the hard nosed defender in New York and Cleveland. But these brothers played together in Orlando during the 1999 season. Coincidentally, the 1999 season was the last in the NBA for both brothers who were in the twilight of their careers at that time. But which other brothers got the chance to end their long NBA careers together? Read on.
5. Dick and Tom Van Arsdale
In the 1976 -77 NBA season, Then Phoenix Suns General Manager Jerry Colangelo made a deal to acquire Tom Van Arsdale from Buffalo in order to add more scoring to the Suns line-up. Dick Van Arsdale had a career scoring average of 17.2 points per game while incoming Tom was a 16.1 points per game scorer. Unfortunately, the 35 year old twins had the worst scoring season of their 12 year careers. After the end of a disappointing year, Tom announced his retirement in April 1977. A month later, Dick followed his brother’s lead.
Except for the Hansboroughs who were with the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals of 2012-13, history has been unkind to this rare pairing of siblings. The Wilkins’ and Van Arsdales’ teamed up when they were in the twilight of their careers while Prices’ reunion was cut short by injuries. On the other hand, the Curry brothers never got the chance to strut their wares together in the regular season. But the Dragic Brothers and Morris Twins are a different case. They are all young and just entering their prime.
If you noticed it, the Phoenix Suns had the Van Arsdale twins as the original twins and brothers playing on the same squad. This season, history repeats itself as the Morris twins and the Dragic brothers combine forces to help Phoenix end their playoff drought. The Suns have been out of the postseason since their Western Conference Finals appearance in 2009-10 and they’re hoping this time that a family that plays together, wins together.