Despite Bryan Colangelo's remarks, Dario Saric has all the leverage


Bryan Colangelo and Brett Brown jetted off to Turkey last week to meet with Dario Saric. Sounded promising. But then Colangelo talked to about the trip and it suddenly sounded less promising.
So many questions for Colangelo. How’d it go? How’d Saric look on the court? What did you think of that sweet 'stache? And oh yeah: Is Saric coming over or what?
"I don't think I'm optimistic or pessimistic,” Colangelo told “I think I'm just neutral right now. I do [have a gut feeling] but I'm not sure I want to reveal it. I'm hopeful we can get it done. It would be helpful to the organization and I think it would actually be helpful to Dario to kind of get off on the right foot in the league."
Bollocks. If you’re a Sixers fan, what you wanted to hear was that Colangelo returned from Europe with Saric stuffed in his suitcase. (Checked luggage. Big bag.) Instead, you’re left to parse the meaning of Colangelo not being optimistic or pessimistic but rather adopting a position of Saric-signing neutrality. As a general rule, when you tell someone that they sound sort of pessimistic on a subject or outcome, as the scribbler did, and then that person insists they're actually just neutral, as Colangelo did, it tends to make interpreters of the exchange think that things aren’t going very well.
Colangelo — who said the Sixers should know in the next few weeks what Saric will do — has used some interesting language lately when talking about his prospective employee. He’s said more than once that it would behoove Saric to come over this year rather than the following season because, as the Sixers reshape their roster, Saric might not have the same opportunity if he waits. Look at that last sentence in the quote above. That business about getting off on the right foot isn’t exactly veiled negotiating parlance, and it’s consistent with the fairly direct position Colangelo and the Sixers have taken on the topic.
“There’s an idea and an understanding that there might be more leverage for him to come over the following year and forgo the rookie scale," Colangelo said recently. “That’s, again, speculation and not necessarily the circumstance that we’ll find ourselves in as a team if we take a major step forward or a small incremental step forward.”
While we’re on the subject of leverage, it would appear Colangelo and the Sixers are trying to use a hardline (or harder than necessary) stance to push Saric into coming over now. But that negotiating approach requires Saric to buy the notions that:

1. The Sixers will get appreciably better next season;

2. When they get better, they might not be able to find as many minutes for Saric when he’s ready to join the team; and

3. As a result, he’ll end up costing himself money rather than making more of it.
Maybe that’s the only play for Colangelo, but it still seems like a weird and risky gambit. Even if we stipulate the point the Sixers will be better next year — and how could they not be? — does anyone really believe that Saric wouldn’t help them the following season? Does anyone think they’d be so good they’d suddenly be indifferent to adding him? What kind of crazy scenario would have to unfold for him to not make more money by waiting another year?
Without (once again) belaboring the financial implications too much, the cap is set to jump significantly in the next two seasons because of the league's new TV money. (Estimations have it around $90 million next year and somewhere in the neighborhood of $108 million the year after.) If he stays in Europe one more season, he gets off the rookie pay scale model and can negotiate for whatever he can get. Even in a parallel universe where the Sixers are good, they’re going to have a lot more money to spend because of the cap increase. They can huff and puff and try to blow his Anadolu Efes house down all they want, but waiting another year could put $10 million or more into Saric’s pocket.
What would you do in that situation? You’ve got a general manager trying to strong arm you out of what sure looks like a bigger payday. If Colangelo really wants to play the who-blinks-first game, who could blame Saric for taking him up on the offer and staring him down? Because, as leverage goes, it seems like one of them is in a positive position — and the other guy is, at best, neutral.

Contact Us