When it was initially reported Dario Saric told his teammates he'd be leaving for Philadelphia this offseason, I joked about the possibility of people crediting Bryan and/or Jerry Colangelo for The Homie's arrival.
We should take bets on who will be the first columnist that credits Colangelo for getting Saric to come over. https://t.co/qMfCQliJn6— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) April 24, 2016
Unfortunately, more than a few people (who shall go unnamed) either did not realize this was a joke or are trying to extend the length of the gag. I'm all for the utility of repetition as a comedic device, but enough is enough.
Dario Saric's eventual arrival in America can be attributed to one person: Dario Saric. Perhaps this is a difficult concept to grasp, but he is an adult human with the right to choose when he departs Europe for the best basketball league in the world. He is of course bound by buyout figures and a decision-making process connected to choices he's made in the past, but the choices are his all the same.
To be clear: Saric's arrival in Philadelphia this summer is far from a foregone conclusion, regardless of what he, his father or reports might tell you. The financial incentive to wait it out another year is massive for Saric, and as a firm advocate for the "go get your money" camp, I would not begrudge him in the slightest for bypassing the rookie-wage scale entirely.
However, if he does arrive this year we can simply say he is a man of his word. We don't have to resort to platitudes about karma and "winning culture" when his path was clearly stated on the first day of the Saric era, all the way back on the evening of the NBA Draft in 2014. These were his words on the night the Sixers acquired him (bold emphasis mine):
I am not a liar. I told them I would be back. I will play in Philadelphia. I think we can talk about that to my Turkey team after this season. If there is chance to leave, I will come here.
I think it was the best route for me, to stay two years in Europe, to get more experience, and bring my basketball to another level.
Saric said from the very beginning that two additional years in Europe would work best to prepare him for the NBA. You don't need to read in between the lines to interpret his intent, and it's fair to say his methodology was (and is) sound given his improvement as a shooter and refinement as an overall player these last two years.
If we're going to dish out credit for Saric's arrival, you could start with people who actually have relationships with him, such as Brett Brown or Joel Embiid or (of course) departed GM Sam Hinkie. The people who have taken repeated trips to see him, the people who chat with him via messaging apps and those responsible for acquiring him at all would be higher on my priority list than a newly-installed executive.
But even then, it starts and begins with Saric. The idea of giving up money is not a (heh) foreign concept in the world of sports, and Saric is in total control of whether his desire to reach his dream sooner is worth the hit to his wallet, just as a player often decides between more money or sacrificing so his team can go after better role players.
It's much easier to assign decision-making to mythical ideas like karma brought on by new hires than it is to think about a world shaped by an unending series of randomness and choices made by individuals.
Dario Saric is his own man. Whether he ends up in Philadelphia this summer or next is not up to the Colangelos or anyone else.