Philadelphia 76ers: Could a Dario Saric Reunion Happen?

Justin Grasso

Could the guy who many said was never coming over to the Philadelphia 76ers actually make his way back? This summer, it's a possibility. Dario Saric, the Sixers' 2014 12th overall pick, was a controversial selection at the time. Not because Philadelphia didn't believe in the Croatian forward. But because many thought he was going to head overseas to play pro ball and never make his way back to Philly.

After a couple of years, Saric made good on his word and came back to debut for the Sixers. In 2016, the young forward appeared in his first 81 NBA games, averaging 12.8 points-per-game in a little over 25 minutes of consistent playing time. Although the Sixers failed to make the playoffs that year, Saric was a bright spot on the team as he had a case to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Saric's NBA debut season was a solid stepping stone to a decent year two. In 2017, he started in 73 games and averaged 14 PPG with nearly an average of 30 minutes-per-game. That year, Saric helped the Sixers notch the third-seed in the Eastern Conference and made it to the second round of the playoffs.

Things were looking up for Saric and the Sixers in 2018, but Philly's front office felt that more star power was needed in order to get over the second-round hump in the playoffs. Jimmy Butler was the star player the Sixers eyed, and Dario Saric soon became one of the trade chips that would allow the 76ers to acquire their desired target.

Although it wasn't a popular decision, the 76ers ended up trading Saric away to Minnesota. Then this season, the Timberwolves figured they were better off without Saric and sent him packing to Phonix to join the Suns. Now this summer, the Croatian forward will hit the market as a restricted free agent.

There's a chance Saric rejoins the Suns for next season, but a statistically down year could lead the Suns to believe they should cut ties with him. If that's the case, should the Sixers look to reunite with their 2014 draft pick? Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philly recently made a case for a reunion. 

"Saric hasn't been the same player since he was dealt to the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. Still, he's played a solid role for Williams in Phoenix. Saric has flashed the combination of skill and grit he did here, but his lack of athleticism has limited him."

"Saric is a true four. Though you could get away with using Saric as a small-ball five in certain lineups, you wouldn't want him back there for an extended period of time with a true NBA center. Saric did love his time here and played the best basketball of his NBA career. He's a restricted free agent so the Suns would likely have to rescind his rights for the Sixers to have a chance. If the price is right, you can't rule out a reunion."

As mentioned above, the 76ers didn't exactly lose a shining star when they dealt Saric. Fortunately, Philly has seen him play the best ball of his career. This season, Saric played in 58 games for Phoenix, where he averaged 10 PPG while shooting only 34 percent from deep. The former 76ers forward has regressed, but could potentially find a resurgence if he comes back to where it all started. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_

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