The Goran Dragic case has caused a lot of discussion in recent years. Some even considered his signing by TAU Ceramica as theft. The whole transaction went to court, and now there has been a decision. I spoke with our Slovenian friend Matej Bergant, who send us his insight into this case.

Slovenian NT player, a top European prospect of the 1986 generation and 2008 NBA draftee, Goran Dragič moved in summer 2006 from Slovenian team Geoplin Slovan Ljubljana, as you may know, to Spain, where he signed a long-term contract with Spanish powerhouse TAU Ceramica.

Afterward, Dragič was loaned by TAU Ceramica and played for Spanish Polaris World Murcia and Slovenian Union Olimpija Ljubljana. This summer, he was also chosen at no. 45 overall in the NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, who soon after traded his rights to Phoenix Suns. Everything would be fine, but behind the scenes something else was — and is still — going on…

Dragič’s transfer from Geoplin Slovan Ljubljana (which had a long-term contract with Dragič at that time) to Spanish TAU Ceramica wasn’t valid, judged the Slovenian court on the ruling last week.

What happened? In summer ’06, TAU wanted to buy the player and offered Slovan a buyout of €250,000. Slovan considered the offer not good enough and declined, because they wanted more money for the young prospect. TAU wasn’t prepared to pay more.

TAU and Dragič’s agent (Rade Filipović, BDA) found a way over all these obstacles, discovering a rule in Slovenian basketball federation regulations for basketball transfers which allows the player (not in Dragič’s case, but some other special cases) to move if they pay some kind of sum of about €31,000. TAU allocated this laughable (!) sum to Slovan’s bank account to sign a long-term contract with Dragič with a €1 million NBA release clause.

The Slovenian basketball federation made matters even worse, giving the letter of clearance to TAU Ceramica, as everything would be just fine in the case. All this just because transfer regulations were explained differently by every side involved.

Slovan’s GM was shocked and decided to send the case to the Slovenian court to examine the legality of the matter. He even reallocated the money given by TAU back to them.

Last week, the court of justice in Slovenia decided that TAU’s and Dragič’s actions in this case were illegal and that he is still the player of Geoplin Slovan Ljubljana. The court said that the letter of clearance shouldn’t have been given to TAU Ceramica in the first place because both sides involved should have first agreed on the buyout (it took them two basketball seasons to decide this…) before making the transfer. Of course, everyone expects the lawyers representing TAU and Dragič in the case to appeal, so the final decision in this case could take another year or even more.

One other thing is laughable. As I heard from reliable sources, Slovan, which has changed their GM since this case with Dragič in 2006, would now be prepared to let Dragič go for $500,000 (about €300,000), which is a bit more what TAU was offering at first time.

There are a lot of open questions. TAU wants Dragič to take the spot on their first team, as they want him to backup Pablo Prigioni. Zoran Planinić left for CSKA Moscow, so he could actually see some minutes there. The Phoenix Suns and their GM Steve Kerr want to bring Dragič overseas and Slovenian top club Olimpija Ljubljana is also interested in making him their own player, and not just a loaner. We will have to wait and see how this saga ends…

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