Dario Saric reportedly says he will join the Sixers this offseason

Ball Don't Lie
Newly-drafted Philadelphia 76ers' Dario Saric poses for a photo after a basketball news conference at the team's practice facility, Saturday, June 28, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Newly-drafted Philadelphia 76ers' Dario Saric poses for a photo after a basketball news conference at the team's practice facility, Saturday, June 28, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers' extreme rebuilding project depends largely on the confidence and hope that better players will arrive soon. Fans and optimistic analysts point not just to players already on the roster like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, but prior draftees who have not yet suited up for the team or future draft considerations that haven't even been officially assigned yet. It's a largely unprecedented situation in NBA team-building, but it's understandable given the state of the franchise.

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One of those presumably forthcoming players is Croatian 21-year-old Dario Saric, the 12th-overall pick in the 2014 draft. The highly rated forward currently plays for Anadolu Efes in Turkey and remains one of the best international prospects around. Expectations have been that Saric would join the Sixers this coming summer, when he can buy out his contract for a reported $900,000 (two-thirds of which can be contributed by his new team).

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That plan appears likely to occur, because Saric apparently just said that he is definitely coming to the NBA after his season with Efes finishes. From Keith Pompey for NJ.com:

'I'm in constant contact with the Sixers," Saric told Croatia's Vecernji list. "They wanted me to come this summer, but I couldn't get out of the contract. Next summer I have a way out, and I'm gonna take it. I'll try to go out as the Euroleague champion. That's the dream.'"

In three games this season Saric is averaging seven points and four rebounds through the first four games, while seeing a cutback in playing time.

"I can't say I'm happy with the situation," Saric said. "But it's not all that bad. The decision to come to Efes was my own, and I don't regret it. What if I had gone to the NBA immediately and failed 'cause I was still inexperienced, and now I'd be looking to come back to Europe? I have my own way to achieve my goal."

So everything should be easy enough to sort out, right? Well, maybe not. DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony, one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to such matters, provided some useful context to the situation:

The great complicating factor here is that the 2017 offseason will make three years since Saric's draft date, at which point he would be allowed to sign a contract not determined by the NBA rookie scale. The Sixers would still hold his rights, but they would also have to engage in a real negotiation rather than the standard allocation of a predetermined sum. However, chances are that sides would reach a deal fairly easy if only due to Philadelphia's gobs of cap space and general manager Sam Hinkie's need to get something out of a protracted wait for a key player.

Could anything but money possibly cause Saric to wait that long? The bad situation with Efes cannot be clearly defined, because Saric could just be referring to not playing in the NBA but has also seen his minutes dip due to the addition of former Xavier standout Derrick Brown. Yet it's also hard to read those numbers from afar when Saric has been in serious foul trouble and otherwise performed pretty well on a per-minute basis. These matters seem easy enough to solve with improved play.

At the same time, Saric clearly has a desire to play in the NBA, which should trump any desire to alienate his future club. While this issue may only be as resolved as it can be in November (i.e. not very), the smart money is on seeing Saric in red, white, and blue within the next 12 months.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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