It looks like the NBA will have to wait a little while longer to sink its teeth into another juicy foreign prospect. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, a source close to Croatian forward Dario Saric says the 20-year-old has agreed in principle to a three-year deal with Andalu Efes, a Turkish club. The deal will have a player option for the third year, but this will keep Saric from joining the NBA for at least two years.
This latest development is sure to drop Saric’s draft stock a little bit. Saric was getting looks in the top 10 of this year’s loaded draft and it seemed unlikely he’d slide past the Denver Nuggets at No. 11 or the Orlando Magic at No. 12. The 6’10” forward averaged 19.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for his Croatian team Cibona in the Adriatic League this season. He was also the MVP of the league, he led Cibona to the league championship and he was named MVP of the finals.
Saric is one of the more skilled, versatile prospects on the 2014 NBA Draft board. While he’s not particularly athletic, he makes up for it with a drive and passion for the game that is entirely evident watching him play, and will either make you love him or hate him. From throwing elbows to chest-bumping teammates to his silly celebration dance, Saric is either the most delightful foreign prospect you’ve seen in a decade or a potentially annoying future NBA player.
Although this contract will likely drop Saric out of the top 10 in such a deep draft, Ford reports he might not slide too far since his sources say the Atlanta Hawks (No. 15), Boston Celtics (No. 17), Phoenix Suns (No. 18) and Chicago Bulls (No. 19) might not be opposed to drafting him and stashing him overseas for a few seasons. Saric is a tantalizing prospect who has improved his game every year and would bring the kind of versatility of a Boris Diaw-type, so you can expect someone to take the two-year hit and look forward to his arrival in a few seasons.