The past six months have been rough for us card-carrying members of Process Twitter. First, there was the news that a dangerous cocktail of Shirley Temples and my Vine skills would force Joel Embiid to undergo a second surgery on his injured right foot. Then Croatian sensation and 2014 lottery pick Dario Saric announced that he would be returning to Anadolu Efes for at least one more season instead of making the jump to the NBA. A week later, former-future Sixer D’Angelo Russell was unexpectedly scooped up by the Los Angeles Lakers at #2, prompting Sam Hinkie to select Jahlil Okafor and add to the team’s already unresolved front court. And just this past week, the rookie big man was caught on video getting into a fistfight that left a man bleeding and unconscious in the Boston streets.
Simply put, we desperately needed something to make us feel better about the state of the process, and on Thursday we got it in the form of some poorly Google-translated news out of Europe. With Dario Saric’s Turkish League team, Anadolu Efes, playing a Euroleague game in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, the 21-year-old was the center of attention for local reporters. And when they asked him about his eventual plans to make the jump to the NBA, he gave a surprisingly definitive answer.
"It is up to me, and I want to go next summer. I do not know that I could make money to stay."
"The Sixers are a young and very talented team. The results do not show real strength. You will again high 'pick' in the draft, and I hope that it will quickly find chemistry. Do not worry about them." – Dario Saric
Reddit user LoLz14, who is a native speaker of Croatian, translated that first bit a little bit more cleanly: "It depends only on me, and I want to go next Summer. I don't know what money could make me stay (in Turkey)."
This falls in line with what Saric told Croatian reporters last month, only without a window into Dario's vegetable shopping habits:
"I am in constant contact with the Sixers. They wanted me as soon as possible, but I have a contract with Efes. Terminate it is not the same as going to the market and buy a kilogram of cucumbers. But in the summer, I will still go because I have a way out in the contract." – Dario Saric
Many have assumed that Saric would wait until the summer of 2017 to join the Sixers, because at that point his contract will not be constrained by the rookie scale even though Philadelphia would have exclusive negotiating rights with him. In addition to the financial advantages to staying in Turkey for yet another season (detailed here), Saric’s father has been fairly outspoken about his desire for his son to remain in Europe under the watchful eye of legendary head coach Dušan Ivković.
But with the young combo forward seeing his playing time inexplicably dip from 24.5 minutes per game last year down to 21.1 this season, perhaps those around Saric are beginning to lean towards getting him to Philadelphia sooner. On Wednesday, Eurohopes scout Vedran Modrić caught up with Saric’s father and quoted him as saying just that:
Father of Dario Šarić confirmed that his son will play next year for @Sixers .— Vedran Modrić (@vedranmo) December 2, 2015
Now, we’ve been through this before, and history shows us that none of this can really be taken at face value. In October 2014, there were rumblings that Papa Saric was unhappy with Dario’s role with Efes, saying it was "time for the alarm" and that his son was "depressed" because "the coach did not want a lot of shoots." Then, in June of this year, there was a report that the Sixers were "in talks to lure over" Saric. And then in July, after the two sides failed to make that a reality, we heard another report that the 21-year-old had badly wanted to join the Sixers but simply couldn’t because of his prohibitive contract with Efes.
But Saric reiterating his desire to come to Philadelphia next summer and his father reportedly confirming that as the plan moving forward are both certainly newsworthy. However, until the homie Dario is rocking a blue #20 jersey and throwing no-look alley-oops to Joel Embiid, we’ll remain cautiously optimistic.