The Sixers selected Elfrid Payton with the tenth overall pick in this summer’s draft, but as the team is in the most extreme of rebuilding situations, they traded him that very night for someone that wouldn’t be able to contribute in the upcoming season.
Philadelphia traded Payton to Orlando for the rights to Dario Saric, a player who appears to be NBA-ready, but will spend at least one more season overseas.
The Sixers received draft picks in the deal as well, so the plan to continue to acquire assets in the hopes of delayed gratification remained on course. But the team’s brain trust wanted to see their foreign prospect up close, so they took a trip to Spain to see him in action in FIBA World Cup Play. And head coach Brett Brown liked what he saw.
Brown said he was impressed with what he was seeing from Saric for Croatia: “The thing that stands out for me is that there’s a presence that he carries himself with. There’s a toughness that he plays the game with that is just so appealing to me. And it’s how we want to build our program in the city of Philadelphia. It’s a tough city, it’s a real city, it’s a sports-minded city. And I like the physicality how he approaches the game,” said Brown.
The Sixers coach compared Saric with a player he worked with for many years as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs: French international Boris Diaw.
“From a skills perspective, he’s got the ability to pass, he sees the floor so well, he’s got the ability to rebound and lead the break himself as a point forward, like some of the great point forwards. I’ve had the opportunity to coach Boris Diaw for many years in my 12 years with the Spurs. There’s some similarities that I see in Boris and Dario. But all of those things add up to a pretty special player at age 20.”
The Sixers are clearly high on Saric. But they’re also just as transparent in their interest in acquiring talent that will help down the road, instead of in the immediate future.
DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings
The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.
So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?
“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”
“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”
“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”
Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.
And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.
Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?
LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)
NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.
Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.
Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.