Kurt Helin

Sixers say Dario Saric still plans to play for Philadelphia next season


If I were Dario Saric’s agent, I would be telling him — begging him — to play one more season overseas. I can give him more than $10 million reasons it’s a good idea.

However, Saric has repeatedly said he plans to come to the NBA next season, bringing his 6’10” frame and guard-like skills.

Now Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown are going to meet with him to convince Saric to do just that, Colangelo said onTCN’s Breakfast on Broad (via Jessica Camerato at CSNPhilly.com.)

Colangelo believes the shape of the roster, including who the Sixers select in the draft, could have an impact on Saric’s decision.

“We think this is good timing for him,” Colangelo said. “We hope that he does have a desire to be here.”

Here’s the math. 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)

For those of you counting at home, 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.

However, if Saric waits one more season and comes over for the NBA’s 2017-18 season, he can negotiate any deal he can get from Philadelphia. This is what Tiago Splitter and Nikola Mirotic did, and Mirotic negotiated a 3-year deal worth $16.6 million last summer. That would be Mirotic, the 23rd pick in the draft who signed before the salary cap spike that will come the next two years in the NBA thanks to the new national television deal. Saric was the 12th pick. Conservatively, if Saric waits for a season he should be able to to get three years $21 million from the Sixers, or four years $28 million (that will be about the average NBA salary). 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.

Maybe it’s not all about the money with him, maybe Saric wants to be in the NBA that badly. If so, more power to him. But I’ll believe it when I see it. This is a business and staying overseas one more year is the smart business move.

Rockets coaching search update: Kenny Smith to be interviewed, Frank Vogel contacted

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The Houston Rockets’ wide-ranging coaching search just keeps marching along. We know there has been contact with Mike D’Antoni, Sam Cassell, Stephen Silas, Chris Finch and others.

Tuesday it’s the turn for a big name but a longshot — Kenny “The Jet” Smith — got his chance, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Monday it was David Blatt’s turn to pitch himself to Houston, and we also learn from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronical Jeff Hornacek gets a shot on Tuesday as well

The guys conventional wisdom around the league at the front of the list — Frank Vogel and Jeff Van Gundy — are still in the wings.

It’s still early in the process, as evidence here is another report from Calvin Watkins about James Harden‘s involvement, or lack thereof, to this point.

The Houston Rockets, who are in the middle of a coaching search, have yet to present any of the candidates to star guard James Harden according to a source. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said they would talk to Harden during the coaching search and free agency process.

The Rockets are taking their time. Which is smart, this is a big hire for them, but the Rockets are not the only team looking around right now and they don’t want their guy to get grabbed by someone else (not that Dave Joerger was).

Watch Kevin Durant drop career playoff best 41 on Spurs

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Kevin Durant struggled in the first half, with the Spurs defense seeming to have contained him on Sunday.

Second half Durant was as good as we have ever seen him — 29 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter when he shot 6-of-6. While Gregg Popovich would say the Spurs made some defensive mistakes on Durant, he also just hit ridiculous contested shots. He was vintage Kevin Durant.

And with that, the series is tied 2-2 heading back to San Antonio.

Report: Grizzlies start coaching search by reaching out to Frank Vogel

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It looks like the Memphis Grizzlies are going to start their effort to replace their unexpectedly fired coach by talking to an unexpectedly fired coach.

The Grizzlies front office will talk to several candidates to replace David Joerger, starting with reaching out to recently deposed Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Memphis Grizzlies have begun making contact with several head-coaching candidates, as well as the representatives of Frank Vogel, league sources told The Vertical…

Memphis has started reaching out to teams to obtain permission to interview candidates, and league sources told The Vertical that part of the franchise’s working list of coaches includes former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina, Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing, Portland assistant Nate Tibbets and Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale, league sources said.

Vogel will have options, he needs to decide if he wants to jump back in, and if so where. He can afford to wait if he wants. But he also would be a good fit in Memphis, with his defense-first mindset fitting with the grit and grind style of the Grizzlies.

Beyond Vogel, that’s a strong list of potential candidates. My question: Are any of them clear upgrades over Joerger? If a team is going to let a good coach go the front office needs to have an upgrade in the wings. Are any of these guys, including Vogel, really an upgrade?

Joerger is nearing taking over as the coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas out for rest of East semifinal series


MIAMI (AP) — Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the rest of his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat with a sprained right ankle.

Valanciunas was injured in the third quarter of Toronto’s win in Game 3.

X-rays did not show any fractures, but the team ruled him out for the rest of the series after more evaluation Sunday.

Valanciunas has averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds in these playoffs. He had a double-double in all three games against the Heat.

Toronto outscored Miami by 41 points when Valanciunas was on the floor in the first three games. The Heat have outscored the Raptors by 39 when he hasn’t been on the court.

The announcement came shortly after Miami announced center Hassan Whiteside is day-to-day with a sprained knee ligament.