76ers

Sixers, Sam Hinkie in regular contact with prospect Dario Saric

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Sixers, Sam Hinkie in regular contact with prospect Dario Saric

With chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo in town for face-to-face meetings with general manager Sam Hinkie, coach Brett Brown and managing owner Josh Harris this week, one of the topics on the agenda was the long-term makeup of the roster.

A speculative undertaking at best, the Sixers’ brass attempted to lay out a few developments they could keep an eye on in regards to the draft and free agency as they attempt to build a championship-caliber roster.

And when it comes to building that roster, international man of mystery Dario Saric figures into those plans.

Selected with the No. 12 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Saric has spent the past two seasons playing for Turkish club Anadolu Efes in the Euro-League. In 15 games this season, the 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 10.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 44.1 percent from three-point range, hitting 15 threes in his 15 games.

With the young prospect shooting slightly better than 30 percent from long range last season and 43.3 percent overall, Hinkie has been impressed with Saric’s improvement with his shot.

“He’s doing really well for Efes this year,” Hinkie said. “He’s having a great season, he’s continued to shoot it really well.”

As for when Saric could join the Sixers, Hinkie remains optimistic. Saric signed a three-year deal with Anadolu Efes before the ’14 draft, but there is a buyout option after two seasons. There are numerous reports indicating that Saric wishes to join the Sixers for the 2016-17 season, but the Sixers had no official comment on that possibility.

However, Hinkie said he is in regular contact with Saric and his representatives.

“Maybe 48 hours go by without one of us talking to him, not 72,” Hinkie said. “We spend a lot of time paying attention to his development because he’s important to us and because we care about him and he knows that. When the time is right, I’m sure he’ll make whatever’s the best decision for him.”

Development is still at the forefront of Saric’s game. Reports from the Euro-League indicate that Saric struggles on defense and has been plagued by foul trouble. Those are two aspects of the game that every young player struggles with and they undoubtedly will be issues when Saric comes to the NBA.

But Hinkie said the offensive side of Saric’s game has shown improvement.

“He’s done really well this year and he’s gifted, he can put it on the floor, he can defensive rebound, he can bring it up in transition,” Hinkie said. “When his day comes, he’ll have a lot of transition to the NBA that he’ll have to focus on. But shooting is definitely a part of what he’s been focused on and what he’s already improved on.”

Meanwhile, as the Sixers continue to keep close tabs on their Turkish prospect, Saric is also paying close attention to the Sixers, according to Hinkie. Brown also is in regular contact with Saric as well.

“He knows it and he knows how much we care about his development and how close attention we pay to every game and how he’s doing,” Hinkie said. “He’s paying pretty close attention to our games and how we’re progressing as well.”

Sixers Talk podcast: New-look starting 5; What food would you break quarantine for?

Sixers Talk podcast: New-look starting 5; What food would you break quarantine for?

On this edition of Sixers Talk, we discuss which food we'd break quarantine for, the Sixers' new-look starting five and much more.

(2:16) — Richaun Holmes forced to quarantine after leaving the bubble for food.
(10:28) — Two players test positive for COVID-19 while inside the bubble.
(15:54) — With Shake Milton at point guard, it sounds like Sixers are leaning toward a new starting five.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



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Why Shake Milton could thrive in strange NBA playoffs this year

Why Shake Milton could thrive in strange NBA playoffs this year

On March 1, Shake Milton introduced himself to the NBA world by dropping 39 points on the Clippers in L.A on national TV.

Not bad for a guy that was told he was out of the rotation before an injury to Ben Simmons thrust him into the starting lineup.

But that seems to be the story of Milton. He’s unflappable. Whatever his life or career presents him, he keeps moving forward.

As the Sixers continue their training camp at Disney World to prepare for the resumed NBA season, Brett Brown has been using Milton as his starting point guard, moving Simmons to the four. That means the 23-year-old that’s played 52 career NBA games appears to have the inside track on a starting job for a team looking to go on a deep playoff run.

No pressure or anything there.

There are people that just thrive in these circumstances. You can throw them in intense situations, and they act so calm you have to wonder if they even have a pulse. Milton’s imperturbable demeanor has likely helped him get to where he is. 

He was a freshman in high school when he lost his father. Myron Milton was just 43 when he passed away suddenly. The two were close and basketball was a big part of their bond. His dad told him to “just go out there and play like you’re the best player on the floor,” Shake said to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters.

The Oklahoma native was recruited to play at SMU by former Sixers coach and Hall of Famer Larry Brown, who said he “got lucky” in landing Milton over the likes of the University of Oklahoma and Indiana. Milton had a strong college career but that’s also where injuries became an unfortunate part of his story.

Milton suffered a hand injury that limited him to 22 games his junior year and final season for the Mustangs. A back injury presumably caused him to slip to the back end of the draft. After making strides at the NBA level his rookie season, he suffered another hand injury. Just three games into the 2019-20 season — and when it appeared he had a legitimate chance at a spot in the rotation — a knee injury sidelined him.

Ironically, injuries are what led to his next prolonged NBA opportunity. When Simmons went down, Milton stepped in and produced in a big way, averaging 17.8 points and shooting 60.4 percent from three over his last nine games before play was suspended.

All the injuries and time spent with the Delaware Blue Coats has led to this moment, where he could potentially be the team's starting point guard in the postseason.

“You won’t find a better kid than him, and somebody that really trusts the process,” Larry Brown said as a guest on the Sixers Talk podcast in May. “And Philly did a remarkable job with him. Playing in the G League in Delaware, Shake told me was huge. …

“The greatest thing is they had patience with him. They had some injuries and you never know when the opportunity is going to be there for you to show you can play.”

Milton has rewarded that patience already. Now, he’ll have to try to carry the momentum he built before the season was suspended onto one of the biggest NBA stages.

But it’s all part of Milton’s story and why if anyone can do this at a young age and with so little NBA experience, it could be him.

“There’s a poise that he has as a person that I’m assuming everybody on this call that has interviewed him feels,” Brett Brown said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday. “And I think that can help him navigate through a pressure situation of the NBA playoffs. I do believe how he’s wired from a human perspective can help him deal with that environment I think in a more calm way.”

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More on the Sixers