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.
“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).
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.