Dario Saric

Dario Saric Suffers Torn ACL

Suns power forward Dario Saric has suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, the team announced (via Twitter). Saric sustained the injury in the first quarter of Game 1.

It’s a tough blow for Saric, who won’t return this season and whose 2021/22 season is now in jeopardy as well, given the typical recovery timeline for an ACL tear. The 27-year-old remains under contract with the Suns for two more years.

Saric has served as a key cog off Phoenix’s bench, averaging 8.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game this season. Suns forward/center Frank Kaminsky will likely see more playing time in his absence the rest of this series.

Despite losing Saric, Phoenix managed to take a 1-0 lead at home by defeating Milwaukee 118-105. The team was led by Chris Paul, who finished with 32 points, nine assists and a plus-17 net rating on the night.

The Suns will host the Bucks in Game 2 on Thursday before traveling to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Sunday.

NBA Finals Notes: Giannis, Saric, Paul, MVP

When Giannis Antetokounmpo hyperextended his knee during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks star initially thought his season was over — and that the start of his next season may be in jeopardy too.

“I thought I would be out for a year,” Antetokounmpo said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Giannis added that until the results of his MRI came back, he was convinced his absence would be a lengthy one.

“I couldn’t walk, and my knee was like double the size,” Antetokounmpo said. “Usually I never swell up. But you know, I woke up the next day, did whatever it’s called, MRI or X-ray — I don’t know what it’s called — and they said I’m good. And I was like, ‘Thank God.'”

Antetokounmpo, who was originally listed as doubtful for Game 1, was upgraded to questionable on Tuesday afternoon and was cleared after going through pregame warmups without any issues. He didn’t look too bothered by the knee on Tuesday night, racking up 20 points and 17 rebounds, but said he hopes to feel even better for Game 2, as Bontemps relays.

Here are a few more notes related to the NBA Finals, which the Suns lead 1-0:

  • Despite the fact that the Bucks lost Game 1, Antetokounmpo’s return offers the team hope for the rest of the series, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
  • Suns forward Dario Saric suffered a right knee injury the first quarter on Tuesday night and didn’t return. As Dave McMenamin of ESPN details, there was no official update on Saric’s condition after the game, so his status going forward is unclear.
  • Chris Paul, who is playing in his first Finals in his 16th NBA season, joked on Tuesday that he hasn’t gotten used to not being able to watch other basketball games on days the Suns aren’t playing. “I was watching them soccer games,” Paul said, according to McMenamin. “I watched a hockey game last night.”
  • Paul looks like the early favorite to become this year’s Finals MVP, racking up a game-high 32 points and nine assists on 12-of-19 shooting on Tuesday. Check out our poll from last night to make your prediction for Finals MVP.

Suns Notes: Galloway, Crowder, Saric, Craig

With Game 1 of the NBA Finals set to tip off in a matter of hours, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines Suns guard Langston Galloway‘s path from going undrafted in 2014 to being four wins away from an NBA championship.

Oftentimes when I’m in the locker room, I’m the only undrafted guy in the locker room,” Galloway said. “I look at it like this, it’s like if I can beat out the next guy to me, I can worry about myself going forward and the opportunity I’ve provided in front of me.”

Galloway discussed the ever-vigilant edge that being an undrafted player causes you to play with: “You have to always be paranoid. It’s knowing that I can’t rest on my laurels, I can’t rest on my career. I have to always get better knowing that the next opportunity is my best opportunity.”

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News also takes a look at Galloway’s impending free agency, as well as his potential fit with the first team that gave him a shot, the Knicks.

We have more news from the Suns:

  • Jay King of The Athletic has a piece on Jae Crowder and why every team in the league, especially the Celtics, need a guy like him. “I’m not saying Boston don’t have toughness,” Crowder’s father said on a podcast with former player Etan Thomas, “but they could have used a Jae Crowder. Miami got to the Finals last year. Jae Crowder’s gone, now where they at?” Celtics president Brad Stevens seems to agree: “Everywhere Jae Crowder goes, they win, which is great credit to him,” Stevens said.
  • Between injuries, a positive COVID test, and inconsistent minutes, it wasn’t the easiest year for forward Dario Saric, tweets Suns reporter Gina Mizell. “But to be, right now, here, with my teammates, it’s a dream come true, you know what I mean,” Saric said.
  • In a video from The Arizona Republic, Torrey Craig speaks on the experience of going up against his former team in the Finals: “… To compete against guys you played with, not only just compete against them but with the NBA Finals competing against them, that definitely sets the bar for whatever narrative you want to set for it,” Craig said, a smile on his face. “I’m definitely excited.”

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Walton, Saric, Durant

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma signed a three-year, $40MM rookie scale extension in December. All other players who signed similar extensions before the season got bigger contracts but Kuzma has no regrets, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic.

“Of course, guys got paid,” the Lakers forward said, “and obviously as a competitor of who you are as a player, you always look at things like that. But at the end of the day, I love the situation that I’m in. … I know a lot of guys that are making $20, $23, $24 million and they’re not really that happy because they go to work every day, you may not be winning, you have to deal with certain other things. For me, I’m happy.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings coach Luke Walton doesn’t mind taking heat if it takes pressure off his players, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. “When we’re behind closed doors and we’re in film sessions and we’re in practices and we’re in team meetings we’re going to be honest and brutal about where we need to get better at, who’s messing up, how do we fix it and we’re going to drill it, drill it, drill it,” Walton said. “But to me, that type of information doesn’t need to be given out in a way that’s going to make any of our players feel bad about themselves,” he said. “That’s not part of the culture we want to build here. … So I’ll take the hits all day long as long as we’re getting the type of work and effort from the players that we need.”
  • Suns forward Dario Saric confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19 last month, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. Saric hasn’t played since January 11 and his return was further delayed by an ankle sprain, Gina Mizell tweets. He took a bad step during sprints after recovering from the virus but he was active against Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
  • Kevin Durant faces the Warriors on Saturday, the first time he’ll play against his former team in Golden State since signing with the Nets. ESPN’s Nick Friedell takes a look back at what caused the breakup between Durant and the Dubs.

Pacific Notes: Kawhi/PG-13, CP3, Green, Saric

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has noted that his stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, absent thus far from the club’s six-game road trip due to coronavirus protocols, are “feeling well,” but he would not elaborate on when he expected them to return to the team, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Mentally, they’re in a great place,” Clippers reserve point guard Reggie Jackson said of the two unavailable wings. “They are doing all they can to get back as soon as possible.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul has verbalized his frustration with his club following Phoenix’s third straight loss, according to Royce Young of ESPN. “I’m not going to say we’re not good enough, but we’re not playing well enough right now,” Paul said following a 102-97 home loss to the Thunder.
  • After being traded from the Lakers this offseason, Sixers small forward Danny Green holds no ill will toward Los Angeles, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In fact, Green stays in touch with his old teammates. “I still call them brothers,” Green said. “We still have a bond forever, because of what we achieved together and the time we spent in the bubble.”
  • The Suns are hopeful that forward Dario Saric, who has been conditioning for several days after being absent due to the league’s coronavirus protocols, can return for the team’s game against the Mavericks this Saturday, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM tweets. In seven games this season, Saric is averaging 10.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.0 APG. He is connecting on 35.7% of his 4.0 three-point attempts per game.

Suns Notes: Galloway, Carter, Saric, Crowder

Langston Galloway wanted to join a playoff contender, which is one of the big reasons he chose the Suns in free agency, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

“The reason why I picked Phoenix, it’s a young, up-and-coming team that’s really on the move and can really help me going forward,” he said. “I really want to experience the playoffs and try to win a championship and I think this is the right organization to be with.”

Galloway, who averaged 10.3 PPG with the Pistons last season, signed a veteran’s minimum contract.

Detroit coach Dwane Casey was sad to see Galloway depart. “Langston is a leader, he sets the tone in practice, he’s a shooter and he’s a competitor,” he said. “He’s a quiet competitor.”

We have more on the Suns:

  • Phoenix gave restricted free agent Jevon Carter a three-year, $11.5MM deal to stay put and that made him feel like a valued member of the team, as he described to Rankin in a separate story. “I felt like I was wanted here,” Carter said. “Even when I went through those stretches when I wasn’t playing, it never felt like they didn’t want me here.” A 6’1” guard, Carter appeared in 58 games last season, averaging 4.9 PPG in 16.3 MPG.
  • Another restricted free agent that the Suns retained, forward Dario Saric, admitted to Rankin (Twitter link) that he was filled with uncertainty when free agency began. “I was like waking up saying, ‘Did anybody text me? Did my agent have anything to say to me?’ It was a couple of nervous days for me,” he said. “Everything ended up the right way for me.” Saric signed a three-year, $27MM contract.
  • Head coach Monty Williams wouldn’t elaborate on Jae Crowder‘s status during the first day of full practice Monday, Rankin reports. “I can’t comment on Jae’s situation,” Williams said. “I’m just going to leave it at that.” Crowder was a big “get” for Phoenix in free agency, as he left the Heat and signed a three-year, $30MM contract.
  • In case you missed it, B.J. Johnson was expected to join the Suns in training camp but he instead signed with the Heat.

Suns Re-Sign Dario Saric To Three-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 29: Saric’s agreement with the Suns is now official, the team announced in a press release.


NOVEMBER 23: The Suns and restricted free agent Dario Saric have agreed to a new deal, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Agents Jeff Schwartz and Mike Lindeman tell Wojnarowski that their client will sign a three-year, $27MM contract.

Saric averaged 10.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.9 APG in 66 games (24.7 MPG) for the Suns in 2019/20, with a shooting line of .476/.357/.844. The 26-year-old, who was the 24th-ranked player on our list of this fall’s top free agents, will resume his role as a stretch four in Phoenix for the coming season.

While Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes are no longer in the picture for the Suns, the team did reach an agreement to sign Jae Crowder, who figures to see some time at the four as well as the three.

In addition to bringing back Saric and landing Crowder, the Suns also traded for Chris Paul, agreed to re-sign Jevon Carter, struck a deal with E’Twaun Moore, and selected Jalen Smith with the No. 10 pick in the draft. The Suns are looking to build on their 8-0 performance during the NBA’s summer restart and return to the playoffs in 2021.

With Saric off the board, Brandon Ingram and Bogdan Bogdanovic are the only non-two-way restricted free agents whose contract situations have yet to be resolved. Ingram is expected to re-sign with the Pelicans, while Bogdanovic is waiting to see if the Kings will match the offer sheet he signed with Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns’ Saric, Spurs’ Poeltl Among Players Receiving QOs

A series of players have received qualifying offers from their respective teams, making them restricted free agents this fall, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Those players include Suns forward Dario Saric, Suns guard Jevon Carter, Grizzlies two-way guard John Konchar, Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, and Spurs two-way players Quinndary Weatherspoon and Drew Eubanks.

Saric and Poeltl are the most notable names in the group and were also the most likely to receive qualifying offers, since Phoenix and San Antonio will want to retain the ability to match offer sheets on those players. Saric’s QO is worth about $5.1MM, while Poeltl’s is for approximately $4.6MM.

Saric, Poeltl, and the other players who received qualifying offers could accept those one-year contract offers, but will likely try to negotiate new, longer-term deals, either with their own teams or with rival suitors.

The Pistons won’t be extending a qualifying offer to two-way player Jordan Bone, so he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster confirmed this week that the club will be making its annual qualifying offer to EuroLeague guard Nando De Colo, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). Currently a member of Fenerbahce in Turkey, De Colo hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014, but would be a Raptors RFA if he wants to return, since Toronto has issued a QO each year since then.

Western Notes: Baynes, Saric, Wolves, Nuggets

Multiple playoff teams are hoping to sign Aron Baynes in free agency, league sources tell Zach Harper of The Athletic. The big man is coming off perhaps his best season as a pro, despite being limited by health issues in the bubble and not getting a chance to contribute to the Suns‘ 8-0 summer run.

While Harper hears that the Suns have plenty of interest in bringing back Baynes, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) predicts that the club will ultimately let Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, and Cheick Diallo walk. Gambadoro’s expectation is that Phoenix will be focusing on re-signing RFA forward Dario Saric to a multiyear deal.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • The Timberwolves will officially be on the clock to make the No. 1 pick later tonight, assuming they don’t trade it. Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines the importance of the pick for the franchise, while Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune makes the case for Minnesota drafting Anthony Edwards rather than LaMelo Ball.
  • The Nuggets won’t be drafting for need tonight, according to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who says the club will target the best player available at No. 22. He added that there may not be any minutes available right away for that player. “If you’re a rookie in Denver next year, you’re probably not going to play,” Connelly said, per Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com. “When you do play, every minute, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on those minutes.”
  • Western Union has renewed its multiyear jersey sponsorship ad agreement with the Nuggets, the team announced today in a press release.

Suns Notes: Offseason, Oubre, Johnson, Akyol

The Suns will have to decide this offseason whether they want to try to bring back known commodities like Aron Baynes, Dario Saric, and Frank Kaminsky, or whether they want to opt for an unknown commodity via cap room, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). Baynes is an unrestricted free agent, but Saric is restricted and the club holds a team option on Kaminsky.

Kelly Oubre‘s expiring contract will be another factor to watch for the Suns this fall, according to Marks. On paper, it seems like a slam dunk that Phoenix would want to make the 24-year-old wing a part of the club’s long-term future, Marks writes, but Oubre wasn’t part of the team’s 8-0 run in Orlando this summer, and there’s some positional overlap with young Suns like Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • The Suns have faced criticism for a number of their roster moves in recent years, but the club showed this summer in Orlando that the roster was built with a purpose, according to Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. Tjarks singles out last year’s drafting of Cameron Johnson at No. 11 as a decision that was panned at the time, but seems to be working out well.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic explores what’s next for the Suns after their success in Orlando, wondering if the summer represents a jumping-off point for making Phoenix a desirable destination for NBA players.
  • Turkish wing Cenk Akyol has announced his retirement at age 33, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Akyol, the 59th overall pick in the 2005 draft, never played in the NBA, but his rights were held by the Suns, who acquired them in a 2017 trade with Atlanta.
  • Earlier today, we broke down the Suns’ odds for this Thursday’s draft lottery.