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


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.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.