76ers

Sixers get Dario Saric, picks in deal with Magic

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Sixers get Dario Saric, picks in deal with Magic

After spending the third overall pick in the draft on Joel Embiid (see story), who may not suit up at all next season, the Sixers next ended up with a player that is guaranteed not to play for them for at least two years.

Elfrid Payton, from Louisiana-Lafayette, was the selction at No. 10, but his time with the Sixers lasted barely two picks. That’s because the Sixers and the Orlando Magic, who had the 12th pick, completed a trade. The Sixers will get Dario Saric (see bio), the MVP of the Adriatic League last season, along with a second-round pick in 2015 and a first-round pick in 2016 or 2017, according to a source.

The Magic are returning the first-round pick they received from the Sixers in the three-team Andrew Bynum trade in 2012.

With Saric, it’s possible the Sixers will have two first-round picks sit out in the 2014-15 season.

Embiid, of course, is recovering from a broken foot and will miss four to six months. Whether or not the Sixers hold Embiid out for the rest of the season remains a strong possibility.

Meanwhile, Saric, 20, signed a three-year deal with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. He will have to play for the team for at least two seasons and has a player option to play a third. The Sixers hold the rights to sign Saric until his contract ends. If the Sixers fail to come to a deal with Saric, he can return to the draft.

Will the Sixers ever see Saric suit up? One has to assume they will. At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Saric is a stretch four with a soft touch from the outside and deft passing abilities. He’s been on NBA scouts’ radar since he was 15, and they rave about his basketball IQ.

Saric needs to work on his shooting, according to reports. Given that the Sixers were the worst shooting team in the NBA last season and have not improved after two top-10 picks in the draft, it’s clear the team is still a work in progress.

It’s also clear that general manager Sam Hinkie is taking the long-term approach. The No. 10 pick was acquired with last year’s No. 6 pick (Noel) when the Sixers traded All-Star Jrue Holiday to New Orleans.

“Dario is an extremely versatile and highly accomplished player at various international levels," Hinkie said in a statement released by the team. "His basketball instincts, his ability to pass and his desire for greatness drew us to him. Our staff has tracked him across the globe for many years now, and we were ecstatic to be able to acquire him.“

The team also dealt away veterans Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes with only Thad Young remaining from the team of two years ago.

But how long will Young last? The Sixers have five picks in the second round and plenty of assets.

Can the team add on even more potential?

Sixers Talk Podcast: An injured Embiid could potentially change everything

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Sixers Talk Podcast: An injured Embiid could potentially change everything

On this episode of Sixers Talk, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick react to a Game 3 victory without Joel Embiid. How an injured Embiid changes expectations for this team. And is it fair to judge Brett Brown's coaching without their best player?

In what parts is Ben Simmons better without Embiid? Also, the guys preview Game 4 potentially with or without the star big man.

1:00 - Impressions on the win.
4:30 - Embiid's injury is very confusing.
9:30 - Embiid's health substantially limits the team's upside in the playoffs.
14:00 - In what ways is Ben Simmons better without Embiid?
18:00 - Fair to judge Brett Brown's coaching if he doesn't have Embiid?
22:00 - JJ Redick and Tobias Harris come up big.
30:30 - Do you feel there's less buzz around the first round nationally?
34:00 - Game 4 preview.
37:00 - Does Embiid need to take diet/fitness more seriously?

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Joel Embiid sits out Sixers' Game 3 win over Nets, though he says knee injury is getting better 'slowly but surely'

Joel Embiid sits out Sixers' Game 3 win over Nets, though he says knee injury is getting better 'slowly but surely'

NEW YORK — Joel Embiid sat and watched the Sixers’ shootaround Thursday morning in slippers.

About an hour before tip-off, he walked into the locker room, changed into warm-up gear, took questions from a hovering group of reporters as Boban Marjanovic stretched on a yoga mat behind him, then did a light workout on the Barclays Center floor. The whole scene was strange but, given Embiid’s recent history, it wouldn’t have been remotely surprising if it culminated in him playing in Game 3. 

Everyone asked about Embiid’s status before and after the game — from Brett Brown to Marjanovic to Embiid himself — stuck with the line of him being a “game-time decision” besides Greg Monroe, the man who stepped into Embiid's spot in the starting lineup in the Sixers’ 131-115 win over the Nets (see observations). 

“They told me this morning at shootaround that most likely Joel would be out so he was going to start me,” Monroe told reporters. “So I knew right away in the morning and was able to get mentally focused.”

Embiid attempted to describe his left knee soreness, which he again classified as “tendinitis.”

It’s just about working on your strength and just getting in the practice facility or whatever, basically. Just trying to do whatever you can do to stay strong. At the end of the day, what cures it is just loading. You gotta load in the right way. Can’t do too much and then can’t also sit out and do nothing. It’s hard to manage, but gotta do it. Gotta push through the pain and see where it goes. 

Though “pushing through the pain” doesn’t sound like an ideal situation for a team’s best player, Embiid said he’s making progress.

“It is becoming better, slowly but surely,” he said. “We just gotta be smart about how we handle it every single day. I’m sure these guys wouldn’t let me get on the court if there was a chance of something bad happening. Gotta Trust The Process.”

The confounding part of Embiid’s knee pain, at least as he describes it, is the unpredictability. The fact he had an extra day off before Game 3 didn’t automatically increase the odds of him playing.

“Kind of,” Embiid said of whether the extra day was helpful. “The body reacts differently every day. I might feel good after the game and then in two days, maybe feel it. So I just gotta manage it.”

The one certainty with Embiid is his importance to the Sixers. 

As Brown said before Game 2, when game planning with Embiid and without Embiid, “There is night and then there is day.”

Monroe and Marjanovic combined for 23 points and 21 rebounds in Game 3, but they're likely not a long-term solution if the Sixers aim to win the Eastern Conference. 

“We definitely need him,” Jimmy Butler said of Embiid. “We’re capable of winning some games, but we’d all definitely rather have Jo out there.”

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