Is Dario Saric the next Fran Vazquez? A highly-touted lottery pick who never joins his NBA team and plays international ball forever?
All the evidence (as of now) is pointing towards no. By 2016, he’ll be in Philadelphia, joining a frontcourt with two budding stars in Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. That’s the hope, at least.
Yesterday on his personal blog, Derek Bodner outlined the reasons why the Croatian sensation will opt out of his three year deal with Turkish club, Anadolu Efes, to play with Philly in the 2016-17 season. I recommend reading the whole thing, but to summarize, joining the Sixers would make sense for Saric both financially, and competitively. And by all accounts, he’s actually interested in playing in the big leagues. “I promise, for sure I’ll be here,” he told NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg on draft night.
Now, promises have been broken before. Vazquez, for example, had told his American agent Marc Cornstein that he’d play in the NBA, but signed a lucrative deal with Akasvayu Girona in Spain after the 2005 draft, and avoided the Magic for good. Given that 20-year-olds are unpredictable – and say things they don’t necessarily mean – we shouldn’t rule out Saric having a change of heart too. What if he falls in love with his Turkish club? What if he meets the lady of his dreams, and she doesn’t want to live in the United States? What if he gets cold feet about moving halfway across the world, away from his family, to play for a perennial lottery team? He does, from my understanding, have every right to stay in Europe.
But I don’t see that happening. That’s because of the reasons outlined by Bodner – the cash, the competition – and perhaps, more importantly, the impact that screwing the Sixers would have on his agent, Misko Raznatovic. I suspect that Saric’s rep assured the Sixers (and probably the Magic) that he’d be in the NBA by 2016-17. To renege on that would hurt him in future negotiations with other clients, which include Mirza Teletovic and Pero Antic.
So fear not, Sixers fans. There’s every reason to believe that your favorite European prospect, missing teeth and all, will be taking his talents to the City of Brotherly Love in 2016. If you, like Joel Embiid, can’t wait until then, check out the homie in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Croatia will be taking on Puerto Rico 11:50 a.m. on ESPN3.
— Joel-Hans Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 3, 2014