Dario Saric

Eastern Notes: Saric, Wroten, Budenholzer

It appears that the likelihood of Dario Saric joining the Sixers in time for next season is increasing, with the two sides actively engaged in contract talks, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays. Saric will have to pay a buyout believed to be in the $800,000 range to secure his release from Efes in order to make the jump to the NBA, with league rules allowing Philadelphia to contribute $650,000 to the buyout amount, Stein notes. Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo told reporters prior to the NBA draft that Philadelphia had received “a good indication” about Saric’s willingness to make an immediate jump to the NBA, Stein adds.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks‘ release of point guard Tony Wroten after acquiring Derrick Rose from the Bulls last week raised some eyebrows around the league given New York’s rather thin backcourt depth chart. Some light has been shed on why New York parted ways with Wroten, with a league source informing Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of The New York Daily News that the guard was waived due to an undisclosed disciplinary issue. Memphis subsequently claimed Wroten off waivers.
  • Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer, who was found not guilty of a DUI stemming from a traffic stop in 2013, will not face any discipline from the NBA for this matter, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets.
  • The Rose trade ushers in a new era in Chicago and GM Gar Forman says the Bulls will need retool in order to become a contender once again, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes. “We had a great run for 10 years,” Forman told reporters. “The last decade, we’ve got the best record in the Eastern Conference. We’ve put together a group that we thought was highly competitive and probably had a chance to get to a championship level. The injuries obviously derailed us quite a bit, especially the last few years. And then last year there were just so many of them. But we’ve got to put this back together now, going younger, more athletic and building it back up moving into the future.

Sixers Rumors: Saric, Draft, Dunn, Okafor

New 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo has been managing expectations when it comes to the arrival of Dario Saric in Philadelphia, suggesting that there are plenty of hurdles to clear before the possibility of Saric becoming a Sixer in 2016/17 turns into a reality.

Still, even though it might make more financial sense for Saric to wait one more year, Derek Bodner of PhillyMag.com has talked to several people with knowledge of the forward’s situation who believe it’s very likely he joins the Sixers this year. According to Bodner (Twitter links), even though Philadelphia has been noncommittal about it, people close to the situation with Efes (Saric’s team in Turkey) believe the former No. 12 overall pick will make the leap to the NBA this summer.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • With Jaylen Brown having come in for a solo workout with the 76ers on Tuesday, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if it’s a signal that the club is serious about acquiring a second top-10 pick in this year’s draft. Brown, of course, isn’t viewed as a real candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, but perhaps Philadelphia is just doing its due diligence.
  • The other players the Sixers worked out on Tuesday are potential second-round or undrafted players, as Pompey writes. Philadelphia doesn’t have a second-round pick this year, but the club will keep an eye on prospects that could be added to its D-League squad.
  • If the Sixers do acquire another top pick, one target could be Providence’s Kris Dunn. According to Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), Philadelphia “absoutely loves” Dunn.
  • The 76ers announced in a press release that they’re hosting another pre-draft workout today, with six prospects in attendance: Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV), Bryn Forbes (Michigan State), Grandy Glaze (Grand Canyon), Stefan Jankovic (Hawaii), Retin Obasohan (Alabama), and David Walker (Northeastern). With the exception of Zimmerman, who ranks 35th on DraftExpress.com’s big board, today’s workout group consists of players likely to go undrafted.
  • Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders spoke to Jahlil Okafor about his rookie season and about the trade rumors that have swirled around him all year.

Sixers Rumors: Okafor, Ingram, Papagiannis, Saric

Sixers center Jahlil Okafor says he has recovered from the knee surgery that ended his season and he hopes to get back on the court soon, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Okafor’s rookie campaign came to an end March 22nd when he underwent a procedure to fix the meniscus in his right knee. On a Duke University podcast Friday, the former Blue Devil said he was hoping doctors would approve him for basketball activity over the weekend. “I’m getting anxious,” Okafor told Duke assistant coach Jon Scheyer. “I got in trouble a week and a half ago for going out there and shooting. The biggest problem is my knee feels really good. So I want to go out there and shoot.” Okafor has been the subject of recent trade rumors, along with fellow Sixers big man Nerlens Noel.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia as draft day draws closer:

  • Team officials hosted Duke’s Brandon Ingram today in advance of his workout for the team Monday, tweets radio analyst Alaa Abdelnaby. Joel Embiid and two assistant coaches joined Ingram and head coach Brett Brown for dinner, tweets Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers. The Sixers are expected to take either Ingram or LSU’s Ben Simmons with the first pick in the June 23rd draft.
  • Sixers representatives attended a workout today by Greek center Georgios Papagiannis, Pompey writes in a separate piece. The 7’2″, 276-pound Papagiannis is projected as a possible late first-round choice. Philadelphia owns Miami’s pick at No. 24 and Oklahoma City’s at No. 26. Foreign players must decide by Monday whether or not to remain in the draft.
  • Economics may persuade Dario Saric to wait another year before coming to Philadelphia, Pompey speculates in another story. The Sixers have owned the rights to the Croatian star since making a draft-day deal with Orlando in 2014. If Saric joins the Sixers this summer, he will be subject to a rookie contract, but if he waits until 2017, he could negotiate a salary up to $6MM annually. “The timing of him coming to the NBA is still in question,” said president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who met with Saric and his agent this week in Turkey. “I believe there’s a desire on both sides to make it happen sooner rather than later.  But at the same time, the contract scenario, economics, etc. all plays a part in that decision making. We’ll know soon enough whether it’s going to happen for this particular season.”

Bryan Colangelo On: Top Pick, Embiid, Noel, Saric

The Sixers have a busy and important offseason ahead of them. The team is armed with a wealth of salary cap flexibility as well as the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and Bryan Colangelo, the team’s new president of basketball operations, will be the man tasked with restoring basketball in Philadelphia to its once former greatness. The executive discussed a number of topics with Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com recently, and while the entire interview is most definitely worth a read, here are some of the highlights:

On the likelihood of trading Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor:

I don’t know that there’s a likelihood. I can’t put a number on it. I would just simply tell you that there’s been conversations and there’s been a lot of interest expressed in some of the players that we have, but nothing that’s made enough sense to pull the trigger on. We’ve talked about the five position in particular.

On the possibility of dealing away the No. 1 overall pick this June:

It hasn’t been in any realistic conversation. There’s been a few people that have inquired. As I’ve said before, you never say never in this business. But I would still say it’s highly unlikely that the pick is in play in a deal, given the nature of this draft. I’ve always said you never say never, but I can’t imagine a deal coming forward that would stop us from making that selection. What’s probably more in play is the 24th and 26th pick, which kind of ties into the notion that we’ve got a fairly young team. We want to pick up the pace with regards to the winning aspect of basketball games. What we’d like to do is find a way to best utilize those picks to help us achieve that goal. If it happens that we use both and select, it’s probably going to be because we didn’t have a good alternative in terms of a deal or we felt those players could help us get where we wanted to go.

On deciding between Ben Simmons (LSU) and Brandon Ingram (Duke) for the top pick:

You can make an argument either way that Brandon Ingram would fit well and that Ben Simmons would fit well. That’s the discussion. Those are the conversations that we’re having to try to determine not just which player will ultimately have the better career and achieve a higher status, but which player is the best fit as well. It’s a combination of things for us. When you look at both it’s pretty hard to imagine that either one would be a wrong choice. It’s a good position to be in. I can’t tell you that as we sit here on June 10th that a decision’s been made by anybody. We may be leaning one direction or another. But it’s safer to say that you don’t have to make a decision until the 23rd.

On draft-and-stash pick Dario Saric, who was recently scouted by the front office:

He really showed his full repertoire, everything from some post moves and some good interior passing to an improved shot.The perimeter shot looks like it’s really coming. He’s got a full range of ball skills and passing skills. I think his game will definitely translate to the NBA in a positive way. The timing of him coming to the NBA is still in question. I believe there’s a desire on both sides to make it happen sooner rather than later, but at the same time, the contract scenario, economics, etc., etc. all plays a part in that decision making. We’ll know soon enough whether it’s going to happen for this particular season. That’s our goal and our desire. I think in the next few weeks we’ll have more clarity.

On the possibility that center Joel Embiid will play in the Summer League:

People are just looking for a timeline. There’s no timeline. But until I hear a doctor tell me ‘No summer league,’ I will always say anything’s open. But the likelihood of him playing summer league is nil. I would only say that because of where he is in the progression right now. But if he makes enough progress and the doctors say he’s ready to go there’s no reason he shouldn’t. But having said that, I would say it’s a 99% chance, maybe a 100% chance, that he’s not going to play. We just don’t want to put him in a situation where he hasn’t been playing competitive basketball. We probably want to ease into that and that would mean sometime after summer league. But if he is going to come into training camp you want him to have at least a little bit of flow and a little bit of rhythm and to be in a position where he could have tested the foot to the extent that he’s ultimately going to be exposed in a training-camp environment.”

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Moultrie, Raptors, Sixers

The Knicks aren’t going to land a marquee free agent like Kevin Durant this offseason, but there are plenty of more realistic targets that the team could pursue in July. Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders singles out a few of those potential free agent targets for the Knicks, writing that Brandon Jennings, Eric Gordon, Evan Fournier, Courtney Lee, Ty Lawson, and a handful of others would make sense for the club.

Speaking of attainable free agent targets, the Knicks are taking a look at a few available veterans this week at a mini-camp, with former first-round picks Anthony Bennett, Royce White, and Arnett Moultrie among the participants, per Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Moultrie, a 2012 first-rounder, has hired Travis King of Relativity Sports for representation, according to HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic:

  • In a conversation with TSN’s Josh Lewenberg (video link), Raptors head coach Dwane Casey talks about his new contract and about Toronto’s offseason, suggesting that the team will target shooting and defensive toughness this summer.
  • The 76ers filled some vacancies on their coaching staff by promoting Kevin Young and John Bryant, a pair of coaches from their D-League affiliate, sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Meanwhile, Sixers shooting coach Gene Burroughs will become the head coach of the Delaware 87ers, Philadelphia’s D-League team, while former Sixers assistant Will Weaver is a candidate to join the Nets‘ coaching staff.
  • Bryan Colangelo and Brett Brown of the Sixers are currently overseas, visiting 2014 first-round pick Dario Saric and scouting international players, tweets Pompey.

Atlantic Notes: J.R. Smith, Vogel, Saric, Embiid

J.R. Smith is having a strong playoff run for the Cavaliers, but he thinks back fondly on his time with the Knicks, as he reveals in a video for VICE Sports, pointing to his close friendship with Carmelo Anthony and the lure of Madison Square Garden (YouTube link). “Every person that plays in the NBA should experience playing in New York, at least once in your career,” Smith said. “To play at the mecca of basketball, at the Garden, every night, it’s probably the greatest decision I’ve ever made, to go to New York.” Smith, who can opt out of his contract this summer, spoke about his initial anger at the trade that sent him to Cleveland last January, but he also made it clear that he loves playing with LeBron James.

See more from New York amid the latest news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Frank Vogel‘s representatives gave positive signals to the Knicks when the team reached out to gauge his interest last week, a league source told Marc Berman of the New York Post, who nonetheless adds that the Grizzlies are a much more likely match for the ex-Pacers coach. Vogel is widely believed to be the favorite to take the Memphis job, as Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal wrote.
  • GM Bryan Colangelo wants to be reassured when he visits Dario Saric in Turkey later this month, but the Sixers expect the draft-and-stash prospect will join them for next season, and coach Brett Brown is particularly optimistic, as remarks he made Monday on The Comcast Network’s “Breakfast on Broad” show demonstrate. Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com has the transcription. “He so much wants to be a part of the 76ers organization when we speak,” Brown said. “I ended up sending him a photo of a young kid in the stands with a Saric jersey on, and the response is like what it is, ‘I can’t wait to get [to Philadelphia].’”
  • Still, financial incentive remains for Saric to wait to sign with the Sixers until 2017, when he’ll no longer be subject to the rookie scale, with one source who spoke to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer of the belief that Saric would be in line for a contract that pays him about $6MM a year. He’d get less than half that on a rookie scale deal.
  • Colangelo said on the same “Breakfast on Broad” program that the Sixers are encouraged by what they’ve seen from Joel Embiid as he continues to recover from last summer’s second surgery on his broken foot, Seltzer notes.
  • Willie Reed, who was away from the Nets for unexplained personal reasons at the end of the season, clearly wasn’t pleased with interim coach Tony Brown, but he likes new coach Kenny Atkinson and made it clear that he wants to re-sign with Brooklyn as he spoke Monday on the “Brown and Scoop” show on CBS Radio, as Anthony Parisi of NetsDaily relays.

And-Ones: Shaw, Saric, Jackson

Brian Shaw does not expect to interview for the Knicks head coaching job and speculates that interim coach Kurt Rambis will be retained, as Shaw said in an ESPN TV interview that was relayed by ESPN.com’s Ian Begley. The ex-Nuggets coach, who is considered a candidate for the Grizzlies’ head coaching opening as well as the Pacers’ job, told SportsCenter’s Hannah Storm that Rambis is a better fit. “Kurt Rambis is there,” Shaw said. “He’s very adept at running the triangle, and if Phil Jackson wanted a coach that’s going to run that system for him, he has a guy that’s there that he has confidence in. So I don’t see him bringing in somebody else who has the knowledge of that system when he already has somebody there.”

In other news and notes around the league:

  • Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and head coach Brett Brown will fly to Turkey this month to meet with Dario Saric, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The 6’10” forward reportedly told his teammates in the Turkish Basketball League that he’ll opt out of his European contract and sign with the Sixers, who acquired his NBA rights during the 2014 draft. But Colangelo wants to find out for himself, as he told Pompey. “I don’t want to go on hearsay and what might have been said by him or what his friends are telling people he’s telling them,” he said. “I’d rather speak to the individual.”
  • Mark Jackson would be an ideal candidate to replace Frank Vogel as the Pacers coach, NBA.com’s David Aldridge opines in his latest Morning Tip column. He proved he could turn around a franchise in his last head coaching job with the Warriors and led Indiana to an NBA Finals appearance as a player, Aldridge points out. Jackson has also learned from his missteps with Golden State and will hire a more experienced staff and maintain better lines of communication with management, Aldridge contends.
  • The Jazz must decide this summer whether small forward Gordon Hayward fits in their long-term plans, Bobby Marks of The Vertical writes in his offseason evaluation of the team. Hayward will likely seek a max deal that could approach $30MM per year next summer when he can opt out of his contract, but he didn’t show much growth this season, Marks continues. The Jazz must also sort out their point guard situation and add an athletic wing and reserve center, Marks adds.

And-Ones: Johnson, Saric, Cousins, Taylor

It cost Joe Johnson $2,585,519 to get into this year’s playoffs, as Andrew Keh of The New York Times examines. That’s $3MM, the amount Johnson gave up when he negotiated a buyout from the Nets in late February, minus the $414,481 he’s making on the contract he signed with the Heat, who currently hold a 2-1 advantage in their series with the Hornets“This is what I was looking forward to,” said Johnson, who was immediately inserted into Miami’s starting lineup and averaged 13.4 points per game after the move. Johnson’s coaches and teammates appreciate the versatility and decision-making skills he has added to the Heat’s offense. “Joe has brought an offensive threat that we haven’t had,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “His pick-and-roll offense is something that’s hard to guard because he’s great at keeping guys on his back and creating two-on-one-type situations for us.”

There’s more news tonight from around the world of basketball:

  • Croatian star Dario Saric has reportedly told teammates that he will leave Europe and head to Philadelphia over the offseason, tweets international journalist David Pick. The Sixers acquired his rights in a 2014 draft-night trade with the Magic.
  • The Kings‘ best strategy is to rebuild around center DeMarcus Cousins, ABC analyst Jalen Rose told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. People within the Kings organization reportedly sense that GM Vlade Divac is willing to gauge the trade market for Cousins after another nonplayoff season and repeated discipline problems. “You can’t deal him,” Rose said. “He’s been an All-Star player, one of the top bigs in the game. You have to build around him.” Rose went through the Kings’ recent draft and personnel missteps before turning his attention to the team’s coaching vacancy. “The situation definitely needs an overhaul,” he said, “and it’s hard to say who would be a really good coach because I think they’ve gone through 10 in the last nine years, or something like that.” Sacramento has had eight coaches since the start of the 2006/07 season.
  • Wolves owner Glen Taylor moved quickly to get the leaders he wanted, notes Jerry Zgoda of The Star-Tribune. A week after announcing the jobs were open, Minnesota brought in Tom Thibodeau as coach and president of basketball operations and Scott Layden as GM. “I liked his answer to one of the first questions I asked: What are the things most important to you?” Taylor said of Thibodeau. “The first thing he said was, ‘I want to be the coach of an NBA championship team. That’s my goal in life.’” Taylor said Thibodeau will make the final decisions on some matters and Layden will do so on others, adding that the protocol is spelled out clearly.

Sixers Rumors: Saric, Brand, Embiid

The Sixers continue to receive signs that Croatian star Dario Saric will be part of their roster next season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Player-development assistant Chris Babcock recently spent eight days with Saric, who is playing for Anadolu Efes in Turkey. The trip left Philadelphia officials confident that Saric is ready to join the NBA. “Obviously, decisions are going to have to be made on his part,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “But we like what we see and we believe he likes what he sees.” Philadelphia acquired the rights to the 6’10” power forward in a 2014 draft-day trade with Orlando.

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Elton Brand saw his first game action Friday since signing with the Sixers January 4th, writes Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine. With injuries to Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel leaving Philadelphia short-handed, Brand played 13 minutes, scoring eight points and collecting four rebounds. “Contrary to reports, I was thinking I was going to play all season when I got here,” said Brand, who will turn 37 next week. “But you see guys like Carl [Landry], Richaun [Holmes], guys working so hard, I didn’t mind not playing.” Okafor and Noel are both listed as day-to-day, so it’s uncertain how much more court time Brand can expect.
  • Injured center Joel Embiid has returned from Qatar and participated in Friday’s pre-game workout, Bodner writes in the same piece. Embiid visited Aspetar, a Middle Eastern orthopedic and sports medicine hospital, to help with the rehab process on his surgically repaired right foot. Bodner included a video of Embiid’s pre-game routine with his story.
  • Embiid’s long recovery time presents another reason for concern, notes Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The normal recovery period for tarsal navicular surgery is six months, but GM Sam Hinkie has already said Embiid won’t be ready for summer league action, even though it will have been 11 months since the operation.

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Saric, Noel, Smith

The Sixers don’t expect to be active at this season’s trade deadline, but team executive Jerry Colangelo wouldn’t rule out making a move if the right opportunity came along, Brian Seltzer of NBA.com relays. “In terms of trade, we’re not actively out there looking to make a trade,” said Colangelo.  “But, you always have to be open. Things happen usually right around All-Star break.  There’s a week or 10 days when there’s a lot of discussion.  It may lead to nothing, and I think right now we’re kind of content to say there are too many question marks about certain players, health, and so forth that you have to be very careful.  You have to be very selective.  Timing’s everything.

We had a meeting [Tuesday] morning about the next five years of trade targets, and the next five years of free agency, and what that looks like, and how to put the pieces in place that can give you a chance to make, not just a first move on the chessboard, but the last move,” GM Sam Hinkie added. That’s really critical. I know that sounds sort of far off.  Someone like me has to be willing to look around the bend at how we can actually get to where we’re trying to go.”

Here’s more from Philly:

  • The addition of point guard Ish Smith has improved the play of the team’s outside shooters, a development directly related to Smith’s attacking style of play, Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com writes. “It gives us the opportunity to knock down shots,” Isaiah Canaan said. “With [Smith’s] speed, the defense has to take away his layups or the lob to Nerlens [Noel]. So with everybody running into the paint to lock in on him, it frees us up on our side to knock down shots. We tell him just find us and we’ll make them.
  • The team has maintained constant communication with draft-and-stash prospect Dario Saric, who has stated that he intends to join the Sixers next season, tweets Camerato.
  • Philadelphia is still attempting to successfully blend the talents of big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, a process that would be easier if Noel could play power forward more effectively, according to Colangelo, notes Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter links). The executive admitted that the franchise would need to make a decision regarding its big men for the future, Moore relays.

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