As the draft approaches, more and more mock drafts were listing Croatian point-forward Dario Saric in the lottery, well before Boston’s 17th pick.
That no longer seems to be the case. Chad Ford released a report that Saric has agreed in principle to a deal with a Turkish club that would keep him out of the NBA for at least two years.
The deal will have a player option for year three. Saric is expected to receive and sign a contract in the next 24 hours.
The move will essentially prohibit Saric from playing in the NBA for a minimum of two years, the source added.
However, it’s possible that Saric won’t slide too far. Sources say the Hawks at 15, the Celtics at 17, the Suns at 18 and the Bulls at 19 are all looking at Saric and are more comfortable drafting him and keeping him in Europe for the next two seasons. The Celtics, Suns and Bulls all have multiple picks in this year’s draft.
To jog your memory: Saric is very, very good. He’s 6’10, but he’s fluid like a guard driving to the basket and pushing in transition. His shot has shown improvements over the past year, especially from 3-point range, and he’s already a stellar distributor and ball-handler. What he lacks in pure athleticism and length he makes up for with agility, at least on offense, and he’s easily the most intriguing European player in this year’s draft. He likely cost himself some NBA money, since he would have gone in the lottery if teams thought he would play for an NBA team next year, but he can make up some of that in Turkey.
For Saric’s many supporters among Celtics fans, Ford’s report is both good news and bad news. The bad news is obvious: If Boston picks him with the 17th pick (there’s no way they take him at six), he won’t play in the NBA for at least two years. Two guaranteed years (and possibly a third, if he exercises his player option) is a long time to wait for a pick to pay off, even for a rebuilding team.
The good(ish) news is also fairly obvious: Saric is too talented to drop to 17th without some complications. But there are few teams before the 17th pick willing to draft and stash Saric, with (as Ford mentioned) the possible exception of the Hawks. Most teams either want a safer pick or immediate help, and Saric offers neither. The Celtics have an earlier pick for some immediate help, and they won’t be good next year. They can afford to wait.
Originally, I wondered if this was posturing on Saric’s part, since he reportedly wants to be drafted by either the Celtics or the Lakers. Knowing that neither team was likely to take him at six or seven, perhaps he was pushing to be drafted by Boston at 17? While Ford’s report that the contract will be signed in the next 24 hours put a stop to that particular line of thinking, Saric’s pre-draft wishes might still be relevant: If his contract with Anadolu Efes (the Turkish team) does — as reported — have a player option after two years, it’s likely he would agree to come over and join Boston rather than picking up his option and staying in Turkey.
This raises a depressing possibility: If Joel Embiid slides, the Celtics could draft both Embiid and Saric and have neither active at the start of the 2014-15 season, but blehhh. Let’s leave that alone for now.
Formers Bulls assistant coach Ron Adams has departed from Boston after one year to coach the Golden State Warriors. The rich get richer.
From Brad Stevens, via Celtics PR:
“I am very happy for Ron for him to have this opportunity to coach in his home-state. We all wish Ron nothing but the best, and appreciate all that he did during his year in Boston.”
This is a loss for the Celtics. Not a Tom-Thibodeau-to-the-Bulls loss, but a loss nonetheless. Adams is a talented assistant coach known for being a shot doctor. With a potential Aaron-Gordon-and-his-broken-free-throws pick looming on Thursday, Adams would have been an excellent assistant to have on staff.
But as Stevens noted in his comment, Adams is from California, and he isn’t particularly young. The Warriors can win immediately, and Adams’ career is likely nearing its end. Players aren’t the only NBA people who want to chase a ring.
Also worth noting: Steph Curry plus a shooting doctor might actually break Basketball-Reference.com.
The Boston Globe has a fascinating graphic on how every championship team in the past 10 years built its squad, whether via trade, draft or free agency. In 2008, the Celtics had six players on the roster acquired via the draft, four via free agency and two via trade.
After last season, Thursday’s draft night feels like a make-or-break scenario for the franchise. This is a nice reminder that it isn’t. Championship teams are built in a variety of ways. The draft can’t fix the Celtics; it can only be a piece of the puzzle.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.