Cavs, Raptors interested in Dragan Bender
As Dragan Bender continues to explore the NBA market, Cleveland and Toronto are among the teams that have inquired, I've been told, European market remains an option for the Croatian forward. CSKA Moscow and Fenerbache are looking at his situation with some level of interest.
— Orazio Francesco Cauchi (@paxer89) July 15, 2019
Bender, the fourth overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2016, has failed to live up to expectations. In his first three years in the league, his numbers have been severely underwhelming. He has averaged 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds. He shot an abysmal 32 percent beyond the arc, despite the fact that shooting 3-pointers was supposed to be one of his strengths.
Still, Bender is just 21 years old, and it is possible that he could still emerge into a decent player if given the right opportunity. If he ends up with the Cavaliers, he can grow with the team’s young core that already has promising players Colin Sexton, Ante Zizic, and Darius Garland.
Should he choose to sign with the Raptors, Bender will be part of a playoff-contending team. Despite losing Kawhi Leonard, Toronto has made it clear that it has no plans to go on a full rebuild. The Raptors are bringing back most of the players from last season’s championship roster in order to see if they can still play at an elite level, even without one of the game’s best players.
If no NBA team will offer Bender a contract, he could choose to go to the EuroLeague, where Nikola Mirotic and Milos Teodosic have been handsomely paid. Several European ballclubs are reportedly interested in him, and it’s more likely that he will end up there rather than in the NBA.