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Scott Howard-Cooper

Dario Saric
Dario Saric, a 6-foot-10, 225-pound 20 year old, has a deal with a Turkish team with buyout options each year.

Young Saric expects to be in league by 2016 at latest


Posted Jun 25, 2014 8:54 PM

NEW YORK -- Facing a potential Draft hit and questions about his desire to be in the NBA, Croation forward Dario Saric said Wednesday he may spend only one more season in Europe and insisted he will definitely terminate his Turkish contract to come to North America by 2016-17.

Saric, after initially applying for the 2013 draft and pulling out before the deadline, stayed in this time, then reached an agreement with a team in Turkey days after the deadline. The three-year deal with Anadolu Efes included options to get out each summer, though apparently with a buyout that would be more palatable after the second season.

"I think it's better to be two seasons in Europe," Saric said at a press gathering at a Manhattan hotel for about 20 of the top prospects in advance of Thursday night's Draft in Brooklyn. "But if it's a good chance to finish that after one year in Europe, I think, 'Why not.'

"Longest that I stay in Europe is two years. After that, team who chooses me, I will come, I will fight for position, for first five, to be one of the best players."

Asked to reiterate whether he will be in the NBA by 2016-17, to make sure nothing is misunderstood as he struggled with English, after also responding "I don't know real reason" he stayed out last year, Saric said, "One hundred percent for sure."

Staying two seasons is enough of a wait that it would not be a surprise if he tumbled from a near-certain lottery pick, at No. 11 in the latest NBA.com mock draft, to the late teens. The safety net could be the Suns going 14th, with three selections in the first round, and not wanting three rookies in camp and as many as four counting the second-rounder. Similarly, the Celtics have a second choice at 17 while the Bulls pick 16 and 19.

"I've got the same dream," Saric said. "NBA is first, but I choose different way. I was playing third league of Croatia, after that second league of Croatia, after that first league of Croatia. After that I've got three years Adriatic league and I think it's best way for me, two years in Turkey and after that I will be ready for NBA. This is my dream."

Why not get to the dream now?

"I think it's best way, step-by-step," he said. "I say now I started from third league of Croatia and I think the way for me might be step-by-step. I think when I will be 22 I'll be more ready to be in a first five in NBA (team) that chooses me.... I think I'm ready for NBA now, but I think I need more experience to bring up my basketball level, to bring up my IQ of my skills, my body and things like that."

Saric has a skilled offensive game as a 6-foot-10, 225-pound 20 year old, able to handle the ball and play either forward spot. NBA teams see him as a unique prospect because of the possibilities of being a playmaker at that size combined with an advanced feel for the game at a young age. But he was not yet considered a serious threat for the top half of the lottery.

The team that drafts him will retain Saric's rights as long as it continues to extend a qualifying offer. If he comes to the NBA after two seasons, it will be under the rookie scale for the same slot he is picked Thursday but starting with the 2016-17 amount, not the 2014-15 guidelines. If he comes after three seasons, the team will have the option of signing Saric with the rookie scale or go beyond that if it has room under the salary cap, as a pseudo-free agent in that regard.

Also Wednesday, Duke forward Jabari Parker said the Bucks told him they will probably take him second if Cleveland passes on him at No. 1. That follows comments from co-owner Marc Lasry that Milwaukee would take whomever the Cavaliers leave on the board between Parker and Andrew Wiggins, at least publicly removing Dante Exum from consideration.

"They said that they're most likely going to pick me," Parker said. "And I ain't hearing anything about the Cavs. I'm just going with what I know."

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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