Before the Sixers can fully assess how they want to rebuild the team this offseason, they have to determine if that roster will include Dario Saric.
The Sixers traveled to Istanbul last week to meet with Saric and watch him in postseason play for Anadolu Efes.
“I saw a much improved player from what I saw three, four years ago when I first saw Dario,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Monday. “He’s gotten physically bigger, physically stronger. He runs the floor very well. He does a lot of things. He’s highly skilled with the ball. He’s creating shots for himself with step-back dribbles, crossover dribbles, etcetera. And he’s shooting the ball much, much better than what I remember and what I recall from three, four years ago.”
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Saric has been playing overseas since the Sixers acquired him in the first round of the 2014 draft. If he opts out of the final year of his contract, the Sixers will have another forward to incorporate into their already-jammed frontcourt. If he stays in Europe, where he could earn another $10 million and then be out of the NBA’s rookie salary scale the following season (see story), the Sixers would have to look at other options to fill that role, which Brett Brown has described as a “three-four.”
Saric has until a July 17 deadline to notify his current team of his choice. A decision to leave for the NBA would require a buyout.
“I wasn’t pessimistic, I wasn’t optimistic. I was somewhat neutral as to whether or not I felt he would be coming over and I still feel that way,” Colangelo said of their discussions. “I’d like to think that our objectives are aligned. What we’d like to do is get him in to play for us next year.”
Colangelo believes the current shape of the roster would be a good fit for Saric. There are minutes to be earned, and Saric could have the opportunity to carve out a significant role. Colangelo said Saric was not turned off by the possibility of the Sixers selecting another forward with the No. 1 pick. He spoke on Saric’s versatility on the floor and was also impressed by his basketball IQ.
“I think he's, at the age of 22, he’s ready to make that jump,” Colangelo said. “He’s been playing professional basketball a while. Coach and I both expressed to him, and I think he understands, that this would be a good time for him to come over for a lot of different reasons.”
Colangelo believes next season is a good time for Saric to come to the NBA. If he makes the decision to do so, the Sixers will have a roster spot waiting for him.
"He’s very articulate about the game of basketball," Colangelo said. "The discussion, the dialogue was very impressive. I know that whenever he comes over, he’s going to be an asset for us.”