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:
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.