Croatian forward Dario Šarić has informed the Philadelphia 76ers that he will not play for them in the 2015-16 season. Neither will Karl-Anthony Towns, Tom Brady, or Barack Obama. After much deliberation, I too have decided not to join the Sixers in 2015-16.
The Sixers traded the draft rights to guard Elfrid Payton to the Magic in the 2014 draft for the rights to Šarić, whom Orlando had taken 12th overall. If, as ESPN’s Chad Ford suggests he might, Šarić opts to remain with Turkish club Anadolu Efes all the way through the end of the 2016-17 season, Šarić will be able to bypass the NBA’s rookie wage scale and negotiate a contract as a free agent*, and the Sixers will have received nothing for the 10th overall pick they used on Payton (who, not for nothing, was a fun li’l guard for the Magic this past season).
This may strike you as a bad outcome for the Sixers. Just by passively playing the role of an unrealized asset for a couple of seasons, though, Šarić will do more than any current 76er to provide general manager Sam Hinkie with what he’s looking for: the appearance of a long-simmering master plan to justify willfully pissing whole seasons of basketball down the drain. Turkey is the best place for Šarić to do that job, which is probably why Hinkie traded for him in the first place; so long as he’s half a world away, popping up now and again on YouTube looking like next-gen Toni Kukoč against Turkey’s scrubs and D-League castoffs, the Sixers can sell the hype without needing to know whether he’s a good NBA player or Nikoloz Tskitishvili. He’s Schrödinger’s stretch four, and Hinkie’s all too happy for the box to stay closed.
So this is terrific news for Hinkie. Between this, the setback in Joel Embiid’s recovery from the foot injury that kept him out his entire rookie season, and the draft lottery giving the Sixers one top-14 pick rather than the three they were hoping for, it’s like accountability punted itself another two years into the future, for him!
(Plus, oh man, just think of the future draft picks they’ll be able to get by letting teams trade their dead money into the cap space they would have used up paying Šarić. That’s really gonna pay off down the road, man! The Sixers just keep winning.)
Photo via AP