- Matt Slocum/AP
Things are starting to look up for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Among their latest bout of good fortune is the arrival of much-anticipated rookie Dario Saric, whom the 76ers traded for after he was taken with the 12th pick in the 2014 draft.
Saric, a 22-year-old Croatian forward, arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday with reports that he intends to sign with the team on Friday.
For the 76ers, getting Saric to sign this year is a huge bargain – and potentially a financial misstep for Saric, though one he is likely aware of.
As Bryan Toporek of Hardwood Paroxysm explains, Saric has one year remaining on his deal with his Turkish club, Anadolu Efes. There is a $1 million buyout fee, of which the 76ers can pay only $650,000. That means that Saric will pick up the remaining $350,000 on his own check, something that he said he’s glad to do to join the team, according to Keith Pompey of Philly.com.
Getting Saric now is a steal for the Sixers because of the contract he has to sign. According to Toporek, a team can sign a player to the terms of a rookie scale only within three years of drafting him. With Saric coming to the NBA two years after being drafted, he is still eligible for the rookie scale, meaning that he will be paid about $10.7 million over three years.
Had Saric waited one more season to come to the NBA, then he could have signed a much bigger contract. As Toporek states, if a team doesn’t sign a player they drafted within three seasons, then the player can negotiate a contract as if he were a regular free agent.
Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic did this two years ago. He waited three years before joining the Bulls, and then signed a three-year, $16 million contract. With a rising salary cap leading to massive salaries across the NBA, it’s likely that Saric could have negotiated a much bigger contract than the $10.7 million he’ll make over three years.
But it may be a calculated move by Saric, too. As Toporek notes, an uncertain future lingers over the NBA as the league and the players’ union can opt out of the collective bargaining agreement this December, which could potentially lead to a lockout. With new negotiations and possibly a new CBA, the terms for signing a drafted player could change.
Saric may have opted for the certainty of a contract now, rather than waiting it out, only to see a potential lockout or new terms for signing a draft pick.
Nonetheless, it’s a dose of luck for the 76ers. A prized draft pick whom they’ve been waiting for is not only paying for part of his own buyout, but he’s joining the team under a fairly long, team-friendly rookie contract.