European Star Keeps NBA Options Open

Dario Saric, one of the top draft prospects in Europe, agreed to a four-year contract to play in his native Croatia, but has a buyout following each season that would clear the way for him to join the NBA without delay.

The real issue is Saric saying he will stay in the 2013 draft only if he has a top-10 promise, as reported on Twitter by Europhopes.com.

This could become a close call. One executive tells NBA.com, “Yes, he would be considered top 10 already.” Other front offices are not as convinced. So begins one of the interesting storylines heading to the June draft, with the obvious disclaimer that seven months is more than enough time for a teenager to change his mind and decide to stay in or out no matter what, just as college players in the United States say one thing during the season and another as the sound of the cash register gets louder.

Saric said he will sign Tuesday with Cibona in Zagreb, Croatia, according to Sportando.net. The contract provides a series of out clauses for the 18-year-old combo to leave for the NBA, with the amount to be determined as a percentage of his rookie deal, the same sliding scale, as opposed to a flat rate, used most recently when Jonas Valanciunas left Lithuania for the Raptors.

After a year when only one international product without experience in North America was drafted in the first round, Evan Fournier to the Nuggets at No. 20, the 2013 class could have two in the lottery and possibly the top 10: France’s Rudy Gobert, the top-rated prospect in Europe, and Saric.

Saric’s Cibona teammates will include Demond Carter (Baylor, Tulsa of the National Basketball Development League), Dustin Ware (Georgia), D.J. Strawberry (Maryland, Suns, Albuquerque and Reno of the D-League) and Justin Hamilton (Iowa State and LSU).

One Comment

  1. TORO says:

    “The Saric saga” here in Croatia is unfortunately nowhere near its end. He was supposed to sign for Cibona but now it’s more likely he’ll sign for Cedevita. Which is a better team and he’ll have better conditions to develop furthermore. It hurts to see what’s happening to him during the last year or so, he’s a perfect example of a victim who is tossed around by his parents and his club Zagreb. The club wanted him to play another year, without giving him apropriate conditions to develop, he and his father of course wanted out, but there was a clause in his contract (which his father signed) that anyone who bought him had to pay more than 1m €. They ended up suing each other and the kid hasn’t played a game for almost a year, which is terrible considering his fragile age, right when he needs to become a grown up player. Nevertheless, I’m not afraid for him. We haven’t had such a talent since Kukoc or the late Drazen, and I’m convinced there’s no way that kind of a player can go down the drain (like many of our talents have). He’s already a developed player (has been at the age of 16) and I’m convinced he’s a top 5 prospect in the draft.