The Philadelphia 76ers have a ton of moving pieces this offseason. Not only do they have the first overall pick, which will likely be Ben Simmons, they also have former lottery pick Joel Embiid closer to a return than ever, and those two could join a crowded, young frontcourt that already includes Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel (though perhaps not for long). But in the background of all this drama waits the wildest of all wild cards: Dario Saric.
Like Embiid, Saric was drafted in the lottery of the 2014 Draft, the same summer in which he signed a three-year deal with his Turkish team, Anadolu Efes. He was always expected to bide his time in Europe for an unspecified time, but a handshake agreement was in place that Saric wouldn’t stay longer than two years after getting picked. The thing is, if Saric waits until 2017, he can negotiate a contract as a free agent rather than signing a deal at his rookie scale — which would probably make him a lot more money. (Ed. -rough estimates peg him at $6 or $7 million a year if he waits until 2017.)
Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo is very unsure about whether Saric will join the Sixers for the 2016 season, possibly for that reason. The money is as powerful a motivator as any, but it’s highly doubtful the 2017 Sixers will be a friendlier place for a rookie to get minutes than the 2016 team will be, which can be crucial for sustained development in the NBA. One Croatian newspaper is a lot more sure about Saric’s arrival in the NBA than Colangelo, however:
If Saric does come over, that only adds more pressure on the Sixers to make a deal to clear space in the frontcourt. It’s hard to fault Philly for valuing talent over positional fit between Simmons and Brandon Ingram, but if you have six big men who all need considerable minutes, at least two of them are going to be seriously unhappy. But with length and outside shooting, Saric could be the most intriguing of them all, so it behooves the Sixers to bring him over as quickly as possible and find playing time for him.