With the “news” that highly-touted prospect Dario Saric will remain in Europe for at least another year, an expected “development,” I figured it was time to take a look at how things are going with the tank, or rebuild, or plan, whatevs.
I’m firmly in favor of what the Sixers are doing, overall, but, as Jim and I discussed on the podcast last week, little has gone right. Look at what’s become of their major assets or early building blocks [all are given current circumstances and could absolutely and probably will change given Hinkie’s fearlessness]:
They drafted the to-be Rookie of the Year and then traded him for a protected first round pick
this year next year, or the year after, or year after that, but probably next year.
Early net: A high draft pick in 2013 has turned into a high draft pick in 2016-2018, which means we’re looking at 2017 as the earliest possible impactful return on that 2013 pick.
Drafting him was risk-reward all along. But with news of his setback, we’re looking at the downside. He (expectedly) missed his entire first season, could realistically miss his entire second season, and it’s within reason for him to suffer through a short, injury-riddled career.
Early net: Dark clouds.
All along, it was known he wasn’t coming here for at least two years, so news of him staying in Europe another season is neither a surprise nor a major disappointment (mild disappointment). But Chad Ford reports on this:
Saric, 21, has a player option on his contract that will technically allow him to come to the NBA for the 2016-17 season. However, there will be a big incentive for him to stay in Turkey for a third year and wait until the 2017-18 season to play in the NBA.
Under the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, Saric will no longer be bound by the rookie salary scale if he waits three years to come to the NBA. That means he could negotiate a free-agent contract for a much higher salary with the Sixers, much like Nikola Mirotic did with the Chicago Bulls last summer.
With the new TV revenues set to kick in during that season, Saric could be in for a massive raise if he is patient.
One of the benefits of having young, talented assets is that they’re relatively cheap. Being forced to pay Saric real money before he’s ever played a game in the league is how smart, cautious teams get themselves into trouble.
Derek Bodner wrote a couple of weeks ago about the real possibility of Dario choosing to remain in Europe for another two full seasons so he can sign as a free agent with the Sixers:
In 2017 (the season Saric would come over if he stayed over in Turkey for his entire contract) the salary cap is projected to be $108 million, a drastic increase over the $63 million cap during Mirotic’s rookie season.
In essence, a similar (RE: 8.4% of cap) deal for Saric would start at roughly $9 million. That being said, since Saric cannot negotiate with any NBA other than the Sixers, his earning potential is dictated more by what he could earn in Europe rather than what another NBA team would pay him. This is admittedly hard to predict, considering how young Saric is and the lack of comprehensive salary information publicly available for the European leagues. As such, this may be a high estimate, and $6m per year in the NBA may get it done.
You might look at it as “Well, yeah, but if he comes over now, he’d be in line to negotiate his 2nd NBA contract in the summer of 2019!” This is true, but if he stays over with Efes for the remaining 2 seasons, thus not being bound by the rookie scale, he’s also not bound to sign a 4 year contract. He could stay in Turkey for 2 seasons, then sign a 2 year NBA contract, thus having his cake and eating it too: He gets to keep his increased earning potential over the next 4 seasons and still hit free agency at the same time.
The best financial move for Saric, by a considerable margin, is to remain in Turkey for the entire duration of his Efes contract and come over to the Sixers for the 2017-18 season.
Early net: The Sixers could fall victim to Saric’s own success and not only be forced to wait another two years, but also have to pay him more and for a shorter period of time. I see nothing positive in that latter scenario… and you start to get the weird feeling that Saric – maybe the most promising asset the Sixers have – will never wear one of those new, sweet uniforms.
The Sixers got none of them this year. They could’ve had three first round picks, including number one overall, if you believed in the tanking theory (which I do). Instead, they have the third pick, and it’s not obvious what they’re going to do with it, or even should do with it.
Early net: Hinkie might tell you that the Sixers weren’t counting on loading up on draft picks this year, and maybe so, but no one can argue that it’s an ideal situation that they have to punt yet again on acquiring impactful assets.
Can’t really argue against him. He missed a year, but played great in the second half of last season. His ceiling may not be as high as Saric’s or Embiid’s, and hell, he might not be even part of the longterm plan, but you can’t say anything negative about him at this point.
Early net: More of that, please.
Another way to write this piece would be to say that the Sixers’ four biggest draft night acquisitions, and two of their acquired first round picks, have all been delayed at least a year – and in some cases two or three years – in coming to fruition. This whole thing will be judged on later, not now. But we’re two years into this and later appears no closer than it did two years ago. Further, and what’s more concerning, is that after those two years, there’s still no obvious plan or path to building a great team (“just need to add a point guard and a wing” or “a big and a shooter”), as evidenced by the current “take the best available player” talk instead of “we need a guard” talk. It’s one thing to be years away, it’s another to be years away and still not know what specific steps need to be taken.
Again, I’m for what the Sixers are doing. But they’re selling fans on being part of the process, and there comes a point where even the most stepford fans, bloggers and pundits have to admit that, yeah, little progress has been made and there’s a reasonable possibility that no one who will play an integral role in rebuilding has even played a game for the Sixers yet. That’s mildly concerning.