Kurt Helin

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Multiple reports out of Europe have Dario Saric coming to Sixers next season

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Dario Saric must really want to come to the NBA. It apparently matters more to him than $10 million (at least).

Saric was drafted 12th by Orland and traded to the Sixers in 2014 and has played the last two seasons in Turkey. But now reports are cropping up from newspapers and those connected in Europe that Saric wants to come to the NBA next season and start playing for the Sixers.

Then this is this quote via Basket USA (from this Croatian article, I believe), translated by Hoopshype.

“Everything is going in the right direction, and I expect to finish the Qualifying Tournament with Croatia to go sign my contract in the US,” he said in local media. “I still have a year of contract with Efes and Perasovic wants me to stay, but I promised to join the Sixers after two years. What is promised is most important, and when you are a man of your word, it doesn’t matter what the contract says.”

Saric is 6’10” but has point-forward skills with a very high hoops IQ. Saric brings impressive ball handling skills for his size, great scoring instincts (in the post and in transition), plus he is a gifted passer pass. He needs a more polished jumper, there are questions about his defense, but there is a lot of potential here.

If that sounds a lot like Ben Simmons to you, you’re not alone. It will be interesting to see how Brett Brown would use both of them.

It’s a surprise Saric is coming over now because it will cost him money. If Saric comes to the NBA next season (two seasons after he was drafted) he is locked into the 2014 rookie scale, meaning his salary would be (via our own Dan Feldman).

2016-17: $2,318,280
2017-18: $2,422,560
2018-19: $2,526,840 (team option)
2019-20: $3,481,986 (team option)

That’s about $4.7 million guaranteed and $10.8 for the four years of the contract. After three seasons, the Sixers could offer a contract extension beyond this deal, but he would be locked in for the rookie scale that fourth year.

If Saric waits one more season and comes over for the NBA’s 2017-18 season, he is not bound by the rookie scale and can negotiate any deal he can get from Philadelphia. This is what Nikola Mirotic (among others) have done, and Mirotic negotiated a 3-year deal worth $16.6 million last summer. Remember Mirotic was a lower pick (23rd) and signed before the salary cap spike hitting the league this year. Conservatively, if Saric waits one more a season he should be able to to get three years $21 million from the Sixers, or four years $28 million. That’s at least — at least — $10 million more guaranteed. If your argument is “he gets to his second contract faster coming over now” you are wrong — he would still be under his rookie deal through 2020, if he comes over next summer he can sign a three-year deal for $10 million more and he would still be a free agent in 2020.

But he wants to be here now more than the cash. That’s a good sign for the Sixers.

Report: Jamal Crawford to meet with Clippers, Heat, Knicks, Mavericks, others

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At age 36, Jamal Crawford can still get buckets. He averaged 14 points a game last season, often running the second unit for the Clippers while Chris Paul rested. Crawford still has one of the best crossovers in the game, plus he can knock down pull-up jumpers (even if he is a bit streaky as a shooter).

However at age 36 he is showing declining efficiency and to say he doesn’t give a team much on defense is putting it kindly. How many teams would be interested in him?

A lot, it turns out. The newest is from Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

The incomparable Dan Woike of the Orange County Register had even more details a couple days earlier.

Crawford, who does have a meeting scheduled with the Clippers, is also drawing interest from a number of teams in search of a scoring guard. Crawford is expected to receive interest from the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors, the Dallas Mavericks, the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets in addition to the Clippers.

Crawford made $5.7 million a year ago, he’s about to see a healthy raise. Welcome to the new economics of the NBA.

Doc Rivers has said he wants to keep the core of the Clippers together, so his interest shouldn’t be a surprise. None of these should be.

The questions with Crawford are how much — in this market he might well pull down an eight-figure salary — and for teams, the more pressing issue will be years. Is there a team willing to go more than two years fully guaranteed to secure his services?

Wherever he lands, the fans will love him. He’s an entertaining player to watch.

Report: Jodie Meeks traded from Detroit to Orlando Magic

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On paper, Jodie Meeks should have been a good fit in Detroit — Stan Van Gundy wanted shooting, and Meeks brings that skill to the table (he’s a career 37.3 percent from three).

However, Meeks missed most of the season with a fractured foot. After two disappointing seasons in Detroit, Meeks is on the move, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Detroit Pistons are nearing a deal to send guard Jodie Meeks to the Orlando Magic, league sources told The Vertical.

The Pistons are receiving a 2019 future second-round pick, sources said. The Magic have room to acquire Meeks because they are $7.3 million below that cap.

This deal makes sense for the Magic because they are thin at the two guard spot, didn’t give up much to get him, and if Meeks is healthy he can be a quality part of the rotation. For the Pistons, they were ready to move on, the second round pick is a nice consolation.

The Pistons still need shooting, something Van Gundy needs to address in free agency.

NBA Free Agency Preview: Top five centers

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We’ve gone over the point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and power forwards. Now it’s time for the big guys in the paint.

There are some talented players in this group but they all come with questions. They are all gambles. What teams will make the smart plays and what teams will overpay is going to be fascinating to watch over the coming weeks. Here is our list of top centers.

1) Andre Drummond (restricted). Just 22 and the second best all-around center in the league (behind DeMarcus Cousins). He’s technically a free agent but he did the Kawhi Leonard move of not taking his extension last season so the Pistons would have more cap room to make moves. Now they will max him out and he will take it.

2) Hassan Whiteside. He has gone from a guy who couldn’t stick in Sacramento due to a lack of work ethic and maturity, through playing overseas in places such as Lebanon, to coming back to Miami and leading the league in blocks. He’s going to get a $22 million a year max contract, which is amazing for a guy who has never even made $1 million in a season before. Can he handle it? A lot of teams including Dallas, New York, and the Los Angeles Lakers think he can and will chase him hard. Miami is in the driver’s seat, he wants to stay with the Heat, but they are chasing Kevin Durant and have to pay Dwyane Wade, it’s a financial tightrope walk for Pat Riley at the start of free agency.

3) Dwight Howard. Despite what his legions of Twitter-based critics think, Dwight Howard can still play: He averaged 13.7 points a game on only 8.5 shot attempts last season, added 11.8 rebounds a night, and is a decent defender. He’s not the same player after the back surgeries, but he’s good. The questions teams have are about everything off the court — he’s left a wake of fired coaches and damaged organizations behind him — and how long they really want to be committed to a center with back problems. He’s a No. 3 option who should be focused on defense, but he doesn’t want to accept that role. That said, when teams strike out on Whiteside, Howard’s agent will get a lot of calls.

4) Pau Gasol. At age 36, Gasol was an All-Star last season who put up numbers for the Bulls — 16.5 points and 11 rebounds a game. His high IQ game and passing can help any offense. However, there are declines in efficiency that are not going to get better with age, and he defends like a Spanish matador at this point. The Spurs are reportedly interested and that fit makes sense, but the Knicks and a number of other teams will give Gasol a lot of options.

5) Joakim Noah. He’s great in the locker room and he’s still fierce on the defensive end, but at 31 years old his body has started to betray him and teams need to be concerned about how much he can play (and if they can limit his minutes). There is going to be a lot of interest in Noah, and that starts in New York, which already acquired his buddy Derrick Rose.

Bonus: Bismack Biyombo. The fact he’s going to get a contract in the $20 million a year range shows how important rim protection is and how desperate teams are to obtain it. Biyombo has little offensive game to speak of, but teams want his defense that much. He’s not sticking in Toronto, and once teams strike out on Hassan Whiteside Biyombo’s agent will get a lot of calls.

Others of note: Al Jefferson, Zaza Pachulia, Festus Ezeli (restricted), Ian Mahinmi, Donatas Motiejunas (restricted), Timofey Mozgov, Marreese Speights

Reports: Kevin Durant to meet with Thunder Thursday, Spurs Saturday

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The Kevin Durant sweepstakes will start before free agency officially tips off when midnight turns the calendar to July 1.

Durant will meet with the Thunder on Thursday — something he can do before July 1 because he is technically still a member of the team. Every other team gets to make their pitches Friday and Saturday. Chris Broussard of ESPN has the details.

Durant, who is currently in Los Angeles filming a TV commercial, will fly to Oklahoma City with agent Rich Kleiman on Wednesday night for the meeting, sources said….

Durant will then fly to New York to meet with the remaining five teams on his list over the first few days of July. His first meeting on the morning of July 1 will be with the Golden State Warriors.

Besides the Thunder and Warriors, the teams that have meetings set are the Spurs, Clippers, Heat, and Celtics. The Knicks are expected to get a chance to pitch Durant as well. Marc Stein adds some details.

After leaks come out about how every team did well with their pitch — you can bet KD’s team learned the lesson of negative leaks after what happened with LaMarcus Aldridge and the Lakers last season — Durant will want to make his decision relatively quickly. He’s not going to drag this out (his decision could impact some players farther down the ladder, but there will not be a bottleneck like years past).

He can sign a deal on July 8 when the moratorium on signings ends (no team can sign a free agent to more than a minimum contract before that date), then he is off to Asia for a quick promotional tour. By July 18 Durant will be in Las Vegas for the start of Team USA’s training camp for the Rio Olympics.