Dario Saric has the right temperament to excel in the NBA, the elder statesman of Croatia’s Olympic team told Michael Lee of The Vertical. The 22-year-old power forward, a 2014 lottery pick, will join the Sixers this season after spending the last two years overseas. Roko Ukic told Lee that Philadelphia is getting a tough-minded player. “He’s got a great mentality,” Ukic said. “Even the time things don’t go great for him shooting-wise or offensively, he can bring so much different stuff to the table. So he can help the team in various ways. He’s not like one-way player.” Saric struggled in his Olympic debut but made a key block against Spain’s Pau Gasol to secure an upset victory, which Ukic labelled a character-building effort. “Whoever come from our country to the NBA, is like our next big thing. There is so much pressure,” he said to Lee. “These kind of wins, these kind of games can give him the push in the back and help him, not only for this tournament, but for his career.”
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- Serge Ibaka gives the Magic a much better defensive option against Eastern Conference counterparts LeBron James, Al Horford, Chris Bosh and Paul Millsap, as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel breaks down in his latest column. Ibaka, who was acquired from the Thunder in a draft-night deal, provides the club with its first legitimate power forward in 15 years, Schmitz declares.
- The Heat’s development and scouting staff will play an integral part in getting the franchise back to the status of serious contender, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel opines. The coaching staff needs to develop the skills of Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, while the scouting staff must maximize next year’s first-round pick, Winderman continues. That will help attract free agents to South Beach because the Heat can no longer rely on quick fixes, Winderman adds.
- Center Micheal Eric, who played on the Wizards’ Las Vegas summer league team, has signed with Spanish Club Bilbao, league sources informed J. Michael of CSNmidatlantic.com. Eric had the option of joining Washington for training camp but decided to head overseas when the club wouldn’t offer a partial guarantee, Michael adds. The 28-year-old Eric averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in five summer league outings.