Šarić reflects on trade, time with Sixers, appreciates good health

Share

Dario Šarić knows the ins and outs of Wells Fargo Center better than most visiting players.

So, while he cared about the familiar faces Monday night, he also noted the building’s appearance. 

“It always feels good,” Šarić said before the Suns’ loss to the Sixers. “I have some great memories back in the day. I’m seeing all the people I know before the game. The gym is a little bit different; they’ve renovated. The fans are the same — always cheering hard for the Sixers. It’s been great. … It’s good to come back, see people I know, and remember some great history I have here.”

At 28 years old, Šarić has played more games since being traded from the Sixers than he did with the team that acquired his rights on draft night in 2014.  

Still, he recalled Monday that he never imagined himself being dealt to Minnesota. The Sixers sent Šarić and Robert Covington to the Timberwolves as part of their package to land Jimmy Butler. 

“I was kind of surprised,” Šarić said. “I didn’t know what to expect. It was the first time that happened (to me) in the middle of the season and I thought, 'It can’t happen like that.' But I figured out that’s a part of the job and you move on. 

“But my first impression was, ‘Man, I don’t understand,’ because that was my first (team). Generally, that’s a part of the job. After a couple of days you move on, focus on your team, new teammates, and try to be the best you can there.”

Šarić said he still has “really great connections” with folks from his time in Philadelphia, especially Furkan Korkmaz. 

He only played two postseason series as a Sixer. In the team’s Round 2, Game 5 loss to the Celtics in 2018, he posted 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 10 rebounds. Šarić’s final appearance with the team was a wild overtime win at home over the Hornets on Nov. 9, 2018 in which Joel Embiid notched 42 points and 18 rebounds and Ben Simmons added 22 points and 13 assists. 

“Good, young team,” Šarić said. “A lot of potential was there — could be a good team for the long term. Good role players with good stars on the team. I don’t know. That’s what I saw but generally, somebody else didn’t see it and traded (players away). That’s only one part.”

With Butler on board, the Sixers reached Game 7 of their 2019 second-round series against the Raptors but lost on a Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater that will be replayed in perpetuity. As for Šarić, he’s also lacked good luck in the playoffs. He helped Phoenix make a run to the 2021 NBA Finals but tore his right ACL in Game 1. The Bucks ultimately won the series in six games, getting 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks from Giannis Antetokounmpo in the clincher. 

Šarić enjoyed playing most of his minutes at center that season, although he’s now adapting to an irregular role. While Suns head coach Monty Williams noted pregame that Cameron Johnson’s right meniscus tear could mean more opportunities for Šarić, he only played three minutes Monday. Sixers fans applauded when he checked in for Mikal Bridges late in the first quarter, but they didn’t have to worry much about Šarić swinging the game. 

“We have a different strategy,” Šarić said. “Playing in Philly, obviously we had Ben at point guard. It’s different when you have Chris Paul at point guard — different profiles of players. I like it, playing five. I liked playing five that year we were in the Finals. I really enjoyed it; I was in a lot of plays. But this year I’m playing more four, so I’m trying to adjust to everything and trying to find the best (approach) I can at every position I am.”

While his minutes are low at the moment, Šarić sounded grateful to be playing again at an arena he knows well — even if it’s changed a bit since he represented the home team. 

“I don’t have pain in my knee, which is most important,” he said. “I’m not scared. My (strength) never was speed, jumping or anything like that. I understand basketball very well, so that was my first thing. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling ready, and I can’t wait to be on the court.”

Contact Us