Report: Dario Saric will join NBA next season if Celtics or Lakers draft him

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Dario Saric – a 20-year-old Croatian forward – is currently an early entry in the 2014 NBA draft.

He also held the same status at this point before the 2013 draft, but he withdrew. Saric could do the same this year by 5 p.m. June 16.

Before it comes to that, he’s angling for his preferred destinations.

David Pick of EuroBasket:

Not only do the Celtics (No. 6) and Lakers (No. 7) have high picks, they’re storied franchises with strong foundations. Saric would make more money by going higher – our mock draft has him going No. 12 – and he would have a better chance of succeeding while playing for teams he believes fit him.

But why would Boston or Los Angeles go for that?

It’s possible Saric, a ball-handling wing, impresses them. But there are a lot of talented players vying to be top-seven picks, and right now, Saric is on the outside looking in.

There are some teams in Saric’s range – looking at you Philadelphia at No. 10 – that might actually prefer he not sign immediately, so they get an extra year of tanking of a year and/or avoid paying his salary next season. He didn’t seem interested in going that route last year, but a new set of teams are now positioned to draft and stash him.

We’ll see how much hardball Saric wants to play with teams besides the Celtics and Lakers, but this might be the first step to Saric withdrawing again.

He’s leaving his doors open for now. Remember, this report says nothing about what Saric would do if a team other than the Celtics or Lakers drafts him – though the implication exists.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.