One of the most beloved Sixers from the “Process” era could find his way home this offseason. Dario “the Homie” Saric will most likely be hitting restricted free agency this offseason and that may be the perfect opportunity for a reunion.
Saric should be remembered as a field-stretching glue-guy who fit well between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He looked as though he was going to be a part of the team for years to come. Saric ended up as a key piece in the trade with Minnesota for Jimmy Butler much to the disappointment of many fans in Philadelphia. Saric, unfortunately, has yet to find the same success outside the City of Brotherly Love which is exactly why a reunion may be possible.
Currently a member of the Phoenix Suns, Saric struggled to find his fit on his new team. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Suns looked to go in another direction as they continue to build around Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. They’ll likely either groom Cam Johnson as a stretch four or move Ayton to his “born and raised” position of Power Forward, either-way Saric’s role would be limited. This opens up the possibility of a Dario Saric return.
Now again, Saric will be a restricted free agent so the Suns will have a chance to give Saric a qualifying offer. If they do, Saric will officially become a free agent and the Suns will have a right to match an offer-sheet (contract) that Saric signs. If they don’t, then Saric becomes an unrestricted free agent, meaning Saric is free to sign with whatever team he chooses.
In either case, if the Sixers are interested they will have a chance to sign Saric. Now with all the money, the Sixers have tied up between Simmons, Embiid, Harris, and Horford, it would be noticeably tight to sign a player like Saric. The NBA does have a few exceptions though that helps teams like the Sixers continue to improve the roster while over the salary cap.
Now there are a few different types of exceptions but the one the Sixers are most likely to use is referred to as the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. This past season the Taxpayer MLE was $5,718,000 with an ability to sign said player up to three years with a raise up to 5% each year. Now the important thing to remember about these exceptions is that they are all based on that specific season’s salary cap. With the NBA currently in flux with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no telling when the new cap will be decided or how much it will be.
There are technically other ways for the Sixers to add Saric, for instance, the Non-Taxpayer MLE or a sign-and-trade. Neither of these are incredibly likely as the team can’t be above the tax apron before adding the player and are forbidden from exceeding it until the end of the league year. The Sixers weren’t even over the tax threshold last season but teams love the ability to even if they don’t intend to take advantage of it.
The Sixers should obviously value a player like Saric and they clearly have in the past. Saric could add punch either as a starter or off the bench and has been one of the best “locker room guys” the team has seen in decades.
But would Dario be willing to make less than $6 million to come back and play in Philly? I certainly think so just maybe on a one/two-year contract. Saric loved the city as much as the city loved him and he saw his greatest success in Philly. Saric would again have a chance to make an impact and would be able to do so for a contender.
Hopefully, Sixers fans can witness the return of “Super Dario” but until then, we can reminisce about days gone by.
Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports