There are 10 million reasons Dario Saric may not be a Sixer next season

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The Philadelphia 76ers front office has said it expects Dario Saric to be in a Sixers uniform next season.

Saric himself has said repeatedly he plans to come over and wants to start playing in the NBA.

Maybe. But I can think of 10 million reasons or more he might stay overseas for one more season. Money talks, and staying would mean a lot of it.

Saric was drafted 12th by the Orlando Magic in 2014 and instantly traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Elfrid Payton. Saric then resigned in Europe to continue to develop his game for a couple seasons.

What that means is if he comes over next season his is subject to the 2014 rookie scale. If he waits one more season he can negotiate any deal he can with the Sixers as a free agent — the method both Nicola Mirotic and Tiago Splitter used to get bigger first contracts.

John Smallwood tried to explain it at at the Philadephia Daily News, but we will use our own Dan Feldman’s more accurate numbers:

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. After that point, the Sixers could offer a contract extension beyond this deal, but he would be locked in for the rookie scale that fourth year.

If he waits a season, he can negotiate any deal he can get when he comes to the NBA.

In comparison, however, by waiting out his full rookie scale playing in Europe for three years, Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic negotiated a 3-year deal worth $16.6 million last summer.

And remember, Mirotic was the 23rd pick in the draft and signed this deal with the Bulls before the salary cap spike that will come the next two years in the NBA thanks to the new national television deal. Conservatively, if Saric waits a season he should be able to well $20 million over three years from the Sixers.

That’s more than $11 million more in guaranteed money (at least, these are conservative estimates) for staying in Europe one more season. (The counter argument is how fast Saric can get to the fifth season, waiting a year delays that a year, so if you think he’s a max or near max guy in five years then he can take less now and more than make it up on the back end. But that strikes me as a foolish gamble.)

I’ll believe Saric passes that up to be a Sixer next season when I see it. Maybe he will, but that’s a lot of cash to leave on the table.

 

Chris Paul posts emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant were tight.

The shocking death of Kobe Bryant — along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash — hit CP3 hard and the point guard missed his first game of the year Monday, sitting out as he tried to come to grips with it all. Kobe and Paul won Gold Medals together, their kids were friends, and they competed fiercely against each other on the court. 

Tuesday night, Paul posted this personal tribute to Kobe.

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I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully process it. My parents have always said everything happens for a reason and its in God’s plan. But this one is different. Broken fingers, torn Achilles, it didn’t matter. You overcame it all!! You were DIFFERENT! Sometimes we competed so hard against each other that you could never tell how I was always watching YOU!! I needed to see how much better I needed to get and how much harder I needed to work! The love you had for the game was nowhere near the love you had for YOUR girls!! All 5 of them!! And Gigi, who we had already prearranged her marriage with lil Chris, is as beautiful and feisty as she could ever be!!! As I’ve watched you in retirement, as happy as you’ve ever been, I’ve sat back and prayed and hoped that my baby girl will look at me the way Gigi looks at you!!! I Love You and will miss you with all my heart my brother!!! All my love to Vanessa and all the families during this time 🙏🏾 #Mamba4Life #Mambacita

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Like Paul, a lot of us are struggling to process it all.

Watch Jerry West’s emotional memories of trading for/his relationship with Kobe Bryant

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Jerry West has never understood why people thought he was brilliant for recognizing the talent of a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant coming out of high school. To him it was obvious.

If it had been obvious (and if that era had not frowned on the development that came with drafting high school players), Kobe wouldn’t have been a Laker, and NBA history might be very different.

For West, Kobe was not just another player, he was like a son. West talked about it on the well done TNT special commemorating Kobe Tuesday night.

What those neatly packaged TNT clip does not show is just how difficult and emotional it was for West to talk about Kobe.

West has had a life of incredible highs, but also more lows and pain than many — abused by his father and battling depression his entire life — and this is another emotional tax on the NBA legend.

Joel Embiid returns to Philadelphia rotation after nine-game absence

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When you saw the image of Joel Embiid‘s dislocated ring finger facing a direction no finger should face, you knew he was going to miss some time (even though he had it taped up and returned to that game). Embiid had surgery to repair a torn radial collateral ligament on the ring finger of his left hand. Ultimately he missed nine games while he recovered.

Tuesday night against the Warriors, Embiid will be back.

He will have a soft wrap on his left hand that has been cleared by the league.

Philadelphia went 6-3 while Embiid was out.

Ben Simmons stepped up — in his last five games (before Tuesday) he averaged 24 points a game on 70.6 percent shooting, plus 10 rebounds and 8.6 assists a game. Without Embiid in the paint or taking up touches, Simmons took over the offense and looked much more comfortable in his role.

However, the Sixers’ offensive rating in those nine Embiid-less games was 104.9, 29th in the NBA (even in the last five it was 103.2, still 29th in the league). Simmons may have been playing better but the offense was not.

When Simmons and Embiid share the court this season, their offensive rating is 106.7 — not great, but better than without Embiid playing.

Victor Oladipo returns to Pacers Wednesday, likely off bench with minutes limit

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Indiana has gone 30-17 this season and sits as the five seed in the Eastern Conference — and Wednesday they get their best player back.

Victor Oladipo — the former Most Improved Player and All-NBA team member who has been out for most of a year with a right quad tendon rupture — practiced with the Pacers on Tuesday and, as expected, will make his return to the court Wednesday night against the Bulls.

Coach Nate McMillan would not say how he planned to use Oladipo but, considering the minutes limit, off the bench seems the most likely move. McMillan said the team would revisit the minutes and role after the All-Star break.

While Milwaukee has separated itself atop the East, the next five teams — Miami, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Indiana — are all within 2.5 games of each other and could end up in any order. If Oladipo can return close to the All-NBA form he was in prior to his injury, the Pacers become a big threat to break out of that group. If nothing else, they become a much tougher out in the postseason.