Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo has made it clear that he wants Dario Saric to make his NBA debut next season, but he has not been able to guarantee that it will happen. Saric, 22, was drafted No. 12 overall two years ago and has repeatedly said that he plans to join the Sixers in 2016-17, but the Bucks County Courier Times' Tom Moore quoted a league source who believes that it won't happen for another year. One reason is money, and another reason is the presence of point forward Ben Simmons, who was taken No. 1 overall in this year's draft.
"He makes 1.5 million Euros ($1.66 million US) playing in Turkey," said the source Thursday night. "It's a comfortable living. Why come over and risk that and go back to the rookie-scale contract when you've completed two-thirds of not having to be on the rookie scale? This is before the draft."
"(Saric's parents are) counting every dollar because this is their gravy train," the source said.
"He's not coming over to be a backup," said the source, who could envision Saric asking for a trade if he does leave Turkey this summer. "Why would he come over now? How is he going to play?"
Let's quickly take a look at both of these points:
- The financial side of this is not new. Saric and his family knew from the day he was drafted that he could stay in Europe for three years and come to the NBA when he was not bound by the rookie scale. It was always in Philadelphia's best interest to come over before then, particularly with the salary cap rising the way it has. Based on Saric's public comments, the Sixers and their fans previously thought that his desire to play in the best league in the world trumped the millions of dollars he'd be giving up by coming over early. Perhaps that is not true anymore, but Philadelphia will surely do all it can to convince him that signing now is the right thing for his career.
- The Simmons pick complicates things at least a little. Saric's ideal role in the NBA is to be a playmaking 4, and that's what Simmons is. If Saric was under the impression he would start and play major minutes, then he probably has some questions about the roster. Simmons on his own isn't a huge issue -- they can play together because Saric can shoot and Simmons can guard small forwards -- but there just aren't a ton of frontcourt minutes to go around until Colangelo makes a trade. Centers Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel are reportedly available, but neither has been moved yet, and the Sixers have a number of other big men -- Joel Embiid, Carl Landry, Jerami Grant and Richuan Holmes -- in the picture, too.
It's not impossible to imagine Saric in uniform on opening night. If he really wants to be there, then he can be. It would be understandable for people around him to encourage him to wait, though, and Colangelo has some serious work to do to balance out the roster.