Dario Saric’s cost of going to the NBA

Updated: Thursday, June 11, 2015 08:31 AM

Last night, David Pick reported that the Sixers were in talks to bring Dario Saric over to Philadelphia now.

This isn’t all that surprising, as Saric is playing extremely well. Being able to work with Saric directly, and develop them how they see fit, would have a tremendous amount of value to the Sixers.

The hurdle, as it has always been, isn’t the Sixers desire to bring Saric over: It’s finances.

Saric’s current contract

Saric still has two seasons remaining on his contract. I’m told this contract pays him 2m euros per season, although this is second hand information that I couldn’t get verified by either Saric’s representatives or the Sixers. Still, I’m going to use this as a baseline for my calculations, but keep in mind, it’s just to use as a baseline. If it’s less than that amount, that would obviously help the Sixers case.

Saric has a buyout aftert this upcoming season. This means that Anadolu Efes will have to be paid to give up the contractual rights to Dario Saric. I’ve been told that Saric’s buyout with Efes after the 2015-16 season would be “about 800k euros”, which would be about $900k, so we’ll use $900k for that.

That means that the Sixers (and Dario Saric’s representation) will have to negotiate a buyout with Efes if they want to get him over here now. Since a buyout doesn’t currently exist for this offseason, Efes could, at any time, simply refuse.

A couple of things which makes it difficult to see Efes taking a “low” buyout offer:

  • Efes is under no financial hardships. Last year we saw Furkan Aldemir come over because his team, Galatasaray, wasn’t in the greatest financial shape, and they wanted to get out of his contract. Efes is not in remotely the same situation, and Saric is signed to a relatively cheap contract for the production he’s giving them.
  • Efes is having a lot of team success in Saric’s first season there, as they’re up 1-0 in the Turkish League finals, with Saric playing tremendously for them.

The short version: Efes is not a team looking to get rid of Saric’s contract. The Sixers, and Saric, will basically need to make them an offer that’s too good to pass up. Because of various limitations, this will be difficult.

Sixers contributions towards the buyout

No problem, the Sixers are owned by billionaires, right? Just drop a big bag of cash at their team offices and move on with life.

If it were this simple, I’m sure the Sixers owners would be willing to do so. Unfortunately, the NBA doesn’t want billionaire, big market owners to have an advantage over small market franchises, and has thus limited what teams can contribute towards a buyout for an international player. The maximum the Sixers can spend towards a buyout this season is $625k.

Let’s say Efes would want a $2.1 million buyout as compensation for allowing Saric to leave. This is probably on the low end of what they would want, but it’s on the high end of what could actually be feasible from the Sixers and Saric’s perspective. So let’s just use this as an example to show the kind of financial sacrifice Saric would have to make in order to come over here this season. The sacrifice, in the end, could be even greater.

In order to make up this difference the Sixers can essentially use a portion of Saric’s guaranteed salary towards a buyout. Very important note: This is basically like giving Saric an advance on his salary, which he can then use towards the buyout. While it’s coming on day 1, and would come directly from the Sixers, it’s essentially coming from Saric’s own pocket, as it greatly limits his earning potential over the next 2 seasons.

Basically, the NBA sets a scale for 1st round draft picks, setting how much each player should get paid based on where he was drafted. The NBA then allows players and teams to negotiate up or down up to 20% from there, but in practice almost all players get 120% of the “slot”.

This wiggle room is what the Sixers can then use as an additional part of a buyout. The Sixers basically write a contract for 120% of the slot, but only pay Saric 80% of the slotted amount, and then use the money in between towards a buyout.

For the 12th pick in the 2014 draft, the slotted salary is $1.8 million. 120% of that is $2.16 million, and 80% is 1.44. The difference between those two, roughly $720k, can be used towards a buyout.

The Sixers can then do the same for year 2 of Saric’s contract, which is the only remaining guaranteed year. With Saric’s 2nd year slotted at $1.884 million, this would give the Sixers another roughly $750k to play with. This means the Sixers can “contribute” up to about $2.1 million towards a buyout before Saric would have to find other means (his own personal savings, a loan, etc) to use towards a buyout.

Reminder: Roughly $1.475 million of that $2.1 million comes out of Saric’s earning potential over the next two seasons.

Saric’s financial sacrifice

One additional note before we get there: Saric’s 2m euros/year contract is post-tax. Basically, in order to have the same buying power in the United States as he does in Turkey, you have to account for both the exchange rate between euros and US dollars, AND the loss of income tax.

The exchange rate is relatively easy, as 2 million euros is (currently) roughly equivalent to $2.25 million.

However, to get $2.25 million after taxes, you’d have to earn roughly $3.8 million. (Note: I’m using a 40% tax bracket, which is overly simplified).

So, when looking at Efes contract, you essentially have to look at it like he’s currently making $3.8 million.

Here is a quick look at his earning potential over the next 4 seasons if he comes over to the Sixers now, compared to what it would be if he stays with Efes for this upcoming season. Again, this is assuming a $2.1 million buyout:

YearCome Over NowStay 1 Yr
* = 80% of rookie scale, with remainder used to pay buyout
** = $250k used to pay remainder of ~$900k buyout
*** = includes exchange rate and pre-tax vs post-tax discrepancy


This actually doesn’t look too bad, and the fact that the Sixers would have to take money out of Saric’s guaranteed pay to help make up the difference in the ~$900k buyout even if he remains in Turkey for 1 more season actually helps keep that difference close.

You could also argue, with much validity, that getting to Saric’s 2nd NBA contract one year earlier could help make up that lost $1.5 million.

There’s another scenario for Saric, though: Staying in Turkey for the remaining 2 seasons of his contract with Efes.

This has 3 major benefits for Saric:

  • Keeps him in his favorable Efes contract, rather than the restricted NBA rookie scale.
  • Doesn’t have to contribute anything towards a buyout.
  • If he stays over 3 seasons after being drafted, he’s no longer bound by the rookie scale.

That last bullet point is huge, especially with the rising salary cap from the national TV deal.

Nikola Mirotic just went that route, signing a 3 year, $16.6 million deal, that was outside of the rookie scale, when he finally came over. At $5.3 million during his rookie season, Mirotic earned roughly 8.4% of the Bulls salary cap space during his rookie season.

Problem: in 2017 (the season Saric would come over if he stayed over in Turkey for his entire contract) the salary cap is projected to be $108 million, a drastic increase over the $63 million cap during Mirotic’s rookie season.

In essence, a similar (RE: 8.4% of cap) deal for Saric would start at roughly $9 million. That being said, since Saric cannot negotiate with any NBA other than the Sixers, his earning potential is dictated more by what he could earn in Europe rather than what another NBA team would pay him. This is admittedly hard to predict, considering how young Saric is and the lack of comprehensive salary information publicly available for the European leagues. As such, this may be a high estimate, and $6m per year in the NBA may get it done.

Now, let’s take a look at that above table, but including the possibility of Saric staying over for the remainder of his Efes contract, and using the “worst case scenario” of being able to command a $9m/year NBA salary..

YearCome Over NowStay 1 YrStay 2 seasons
* = 80% of rookie scale, with remainder used to pay buyout
** = $250k used to pay remainder of ~$900k buyout
*** = includes exchange rate and pre-tax vs post-tax discrepancy
**** = estimated earning potential


Now that’s a spicey meatball. We’re now talking about a projected difference in earning potential over the next 4 seasons of -$17 million. Even if the $9m/year post-tv-deal salary estimation is high, and the more conservative $6m/year estimation is closer to the truth, we’re still talking about $10m+ Saric would be leaving on the table.

You might look at it as “Well, yeah, but if he comes over now, he’d be in line to negotiate his 2nd NBA contract in the summer of 2019!” This is true, but if he stays over with Efes for the remaining 2 seasons, thus not being bound by the rookie scale, he’s also not bound to sign a 4 year contract. He could stay in Turkey for 2 seasons, then sign a 2 year NBA contract, thus having his cake and eating it too: He gets to keep his increased earning potential over the next 4 seasons and still hit free agency at the same time.


Assuming Efes would entertain a $2.1 million buyout (which is absolutely not certain), with the ability to get to his 2nd NBA contract quicker, you can make a financial case for Saric to come over now, even if he’d have to limit his earning potential over the next 4 years.

However, the best financial move for Saric, by a considerable margin, is to remain in Turkey for the entire duration of his Efes contract and come over to the Sixers for the 2017-18 season.

There’s a chance that Efes would not be reasonable with their buyout demands, and all of this is moot. That’s a big hurdle to climb right from the get-go. Even when you get past that hurdle, however, you’re hoping that Saric’s desire to play in the NBA right now is so great that he’s willing to overlook a pretty drastic decrease in earning potential.

In short: If Saric comes over, that’s great. I’m not counting on it, though.

Update: 11:30 am: 

Corrected incorrect report that Saric’s buyout was $1.2 million after the 2016 season. Also, I updated the explanation on Saric’s projected NBA salary.

Update: 12:15 pm:

Have been told by a European source that Saric’s buyout after next season would be for roughly 800k Euros. I updated the calculations to reflect this.


Derek Bodner

Derek Bodner is a credentialed reporter covering the Philadelphia 76ers independently for DerekBodner.com. He is also a college basketball scout for DraftExpress.com, and an NBA contributor for The Ringer. Contact Information: derek.bodner@draftexpress.com / @DerekBodnerNBA

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  • Silver would probably block this, but if you wanted to get sneaky, I would think the Sixers could buy 3 scrubs off the Efes roster who are currently NBA FA’s and then just release them.

    Or Harris could just buy the team. Can’t imagine it’s going to be that expensive. Could stock it with five Euros they draft in the 2nd round.

    • Derek Bodner

      Yeah, there are definitely “under the table” style ways, but the NBA has a pretty loose “circumventing the CBA” law that they could (would?) use to either block it or punish the Sixers. I would be surprised if the Sixers were that brash.

      Thanks for reading, by the way.

  • One other comment.

    European pro sports contracts are not viewed in the same way as player contracts in the USA.

    Euro soccer players basically force their way out of contracts all of the time. Clubs typically only posture with rhetoric about making a player honor a contract that they signed.

    Nearly always, the club eventually caves and the player moves to a situation they prefer. In soccer there is a transfer fee to be paid and the Sixers are constrained in what they can pay, so that is a complication.

    If Saric wants to become a Sixer, I would expect it to happen.

    • Derek Bodner

      Well, I certainly don’t know a whole lot about European soccer contracts, so I’ll take your word on that. I will say, at least not that I can recall, you haven’t seen that happen very frequently with players going to the NBA.

      Also, I think the buyout is a relatively small part of the financial puzzle.

    • SJexpatriate

      Hey Derek,
      Do you think that whether Dario comes over this off season or later will have an impact on his development?

  • The Six

    Would it even make sense for the Sixers/Efes to entertain this scenario without Saric first agreeing that he would come over? If not, why would they even be discussing this?

  • hart

    “Saric has a buyout after this upcoming season, which Sportando reports as $1.2 million.”

    If you re-read that link, the 1.2m was the buyout Efes paid his old team, not his buyout from Efes next year.

    Based upon all the reports of the deal being 2+1, I would be surprised if there is that substantial of a buyout. In contrast, the past 1.2m buyout was when he was under contract for 2 more years with no contractual buyout in there.

    Which is important, as if the buyout next year is lets say 500k, then the choice between 2m now or 500k then is a lot different than 2m now or 1.2m then.

    Also, I don’t agree with the concept of scaling off Mirotic’s cap percentage. The obvious reason is there is no reason to do so. Mirotic got paid the MLE, which won’t scale with the cap the same way at all, and doesn’t explode up. Why is that not the better basis, as it is the setcap exclusion and Philly might just be over the cap by then?

    Ultimately the choice between coming to the Sixers and staying in Europe financially relates to the comparison between European salaries and the offer the Sixers would make, not the offer another NBA team would make with the newer bigger NBA cap when those team’s cannot offer him a contract. It is not the NBA cap that matters but the European cap (okay, general salaries). In the absence of that happening, getting Saric for the slightly higher MLE in two years will have kept pace with making it more attractive financially than staying in Europe.

    All of which is to say I think the 9m figure should really be 6m. Which doesn’t change the conclusion, just the magnitude.

    • Derek Bodner

      Nice catch on the buyout. I’ve updated the article.

      While the mid-level is currently fixed, I’m anticipating (to the point of planning for it) that one side will opt-out of the CBA after the 2016-17 season, which unfortunately directly aligns with when Saric would be out of the rookie scale. So I would guess it’s very likely to go up, perhaps not exactly inline with the rise in BRI, at least very closely to it. I dont expect the MLE to be $6m, not with how desirous the players association is to help the NBA’s middle class, and not with the influx of cash.

      • Derek Bodner

        Was told by a European source that the buyout after next season is for roughly 800k euros, which would be ~$900k. I’ve updated the calculations to reflect this.

      • hart

        Not to get into too wild of speculation, but…

        “wild speculation tag on”
        It would make more sense for the players to negiotate a 2nd MLE than to increas the MLE. Basically boost the BIE (or BIA depending on who abbreviates it) into an exception that actually matters.

        This way you have less paper thin teams (Cle, Hou, LAC… also LAC again because seriously), and yields 2 guys making 6m instead of 1 guy making 8 and a second guy making 2.5m

        “Wild speculation tag off”

    • Derek Bodner

      The point about what he can negotiate in Europe being the bigger determining factor in his contract is fair, though. There’s just so much unknown (between future exchange rates, increase in financial security among european clubs, Saric’s play/desirability, etc) that it’s really hard to even guestimate what he could earn in Europe. If he gets to the point where he could command a 4m euro salary (post-tax), $6m might not be enough anyway.

    • Derek Bodner

      (also, my point was more to show why avoiding the rookie scale is still to smart financial move, as predicting exact salary negotiations 3 years down the line is virtually impossible. As you said, it doesn’t change the conclusion).

  • tk76

    Doesn’t your “worst case scenario” where Saric comes over in 2017 line up with the timing of the next labor dispute?

    If there is a lockout/strike then that leaves Saric without an NBA team and means he is likely to have to put off his NBA dreams another year. I guess he could sign a short term contract with an out clause, but it is still quite possible that a labor dispute would mean Saric does not step foot on an NBA court until 2018. I doubt Saric, the Sixers or the fans see this as ideal- even if it does mean more money in his first few seasons.

    In this 2018 scenario he is 24 on his first contract. Assuming the CBA works the same at it has been… that means his UFA (3rd) contract won’t be until he is age 32. IMO this would really hamper his career earning potential. If he comes over now his 3rd contract is at age 29- where player still get paid big long term contracts. Looking at the future of the NBA and assuming he is a quality player, you are talking about 30-60 million in lost career income.

    So it really depends on how you want to project the numbers. Also, Saric’s salary went down over 30% in USD due to the strengthening dollar, and that trend is expected to continue.

    • Derek Bodner

      Well, I think the possibility of a “Non-NBA season” is in the air regardless of whether Saric signs with the Sixers nor or waits until his contract with Efes expires.

    • tk76

      Basically, if you are looking at career earnings you need to compare the next 2 years in Turkey with 2 extra years in his prime under a UFA contract. I seriously doubt he comes out behind using this reasoning. Sure, an MLE contract is much better than the rookie scale. But extra years as a quality player on an UFA NBA pay scale will dwarf these losses.

      • Derek Bodner

        “Basically, if you are looking at career earnings you need to compare the next 2 years in Turkey with 2 extra years in his prime under a UFA contract”

        Not really. Since he won’t be bound by a rookie scale salary structure, there’s no reason for him to sign a 4 year deal, and thus lose out on 2 UFA years. He can match up the timeline to be the same.

        • tk76

          I guess you are right. But I would assume that regardless of contract length, a player has a fixed number of years under “team control” as a RFA. But I am no cap expert. Does the years he stays overseas effect this? I assume it is soley based on service years, but maybe I am wrong.

          It is hard to know the dollar value of extra prime years as a UFA as opposed to being a RFA. But it must be worth something. But the impact of service years on a max salary is quantifiable… but I doubt he is a max player down the line. But maybe he thinks he is, which would be a reason to come over ASAP to get the clock ticking.

          • Derek Bodner

            Restricted free agency basically exists in two scenarios:
            – Coming off the 4th year of a rookie scale contract
            – veteran free agent with 3 or fewer seasons in the league.

            If Saric comes over now, he’ll sign a rookie scale contract. Thus, he’ll be a restricted free agent in 4 years.

            If Saric spends the next 2 years in Turkey, is not bound by the rookie scale contract, then signs a 2 year contract, he’ll be a free agent in 4 years with only 2 years of experience, thus he’ll be a restricted free agent.

            Basically, he’s a restricted free agent in 4 years regardless of which route he goes. He doesn’t gain any extra UFA years by coming over now.

            • hart

              I doubt the Sixers would offer him a 2 year deal, versus requiring 3. Doesn’t match Hinkie’s mo at all.

              Instead you saw Mirotic sign a 3 year deal. Same with Pek. After 3 years you have players able to go for their first big contract, so a 4 year deal makes more sense then assuming a 2 year deal. (Alternatively if they didn’t work out you see vet min elsewhere).

              I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see 7 years before unrestricted with that path, so 9 years including the two in Turkey.

              That said, 4 + 4 is only 1 less, and restricted deals can be quite rich so the distinction between restricted and unrestricted is a small one imo.

              • Derek Bodner

                Regardless of the probability of it, I was addressing whether he would be a UFA quicker by coming over now. Even if he stays in Turkey for 2 years then signs a 4 year deal, that would *still* be a quicker path to UFA than coming over now on a rookie scale deal.

                (Note: coming off a 4 year non rookie-scale deal he wouldn’t be an RFA, whereas coming off of a 4 year rookie-scale deal he would).

                • Derek Bodner

                  “I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see 7 years before unrestricted with that path, so 9 years including the two in Turkey.”

                  2 years in turkey, followed by a 3 year deal, is only real way to extend RFA, which is I think what you were getting at. But that’s hard to assume Saric would agree to that also.

                  tl;dr: I don’t think getting to UFA, at most, 1 year early is going to be the driving decision making from either side.

    • Derek Bodner

      Also, I’m not confident in my own ability to project the strength of the dollar 12+ months down the road to include it in such a write-up. If I did, I wouldn’t be using that knowledge on a blog post, that’s for sure 🙂

      Also, while projecting the numbers is important, the point I was trying to get to was there there’s enough of a gap between the two options that, while the details might change, the bottom line is his best financial decision is likely to be to remain over in Europe.

  • Franz

    Assuming all parties agree, would it be possible for the Sixers to exchange the contract of Furkan Aldemir (fully paid by the Sixers)for the release of Saric from his Turkish contract? Are you aware of any precedent for a trade between an NBA team and a foreign league?

  • Hi there. I am Croat and therefore I have strong empaty for Dario. I have been closely following him since he was 15,16 and he was always fan of the NBA and the whole culture. Recently, he said that his ultimate goal is winning NBA championship and he would do anything to achive that. Also a lot of European players would buyout their contract for playing in the NBA. Šaric also said that he didn’t know where he wolud continue next year. All indications even before this newest report had me leaning towards that and I really want that happens cause Šaric isn’t progressing fast enough on offense as he should while Efes is playing old-school Euro basketball.

    P.S. Sorry for bad English

  • AaronMcKie4MVP

    the latest news on Embiid is devastating. as much as i think we made the right pick, regardless of the outcome, the entire future is based on him being a star. i don’t have much hope left .. the guy is clearly never going to be healthy.

    • I’m confused – he’s healing slower than they expected according to all reliable sources – how is that the end of the world all of a sudden?

      • AaronMcKie4MVP

        john , im admittedly reading between the lines here… but it seems strange that this is simply behind-schedule healing… Embiid must be getting regular x-rays and check-ins… so how is it now all of the sudden determined that he is behind schedule? so the bone density was on schedule a month ago, but now its not? it was obviously strong enough to jump and dunk a few weeks ago.. there must have been some sort of regression…

  • AaronMcKie4MVP

    So the Sixers aren’t taking Russell now ? Derek, any plans on putting together a fresh piece on the draft?

    • Nobody knew what the sixers were doing the past two drafts, no one knows what they’re doing now…baseless speculation and click bait is what people are doing/writing, plus reading too much into a kid being sick.

      No offense to Derek but he has no special insight to what the sixers are going to do – because the sixers run that tight a ship.

      Apropos of nothing else

      1. I don’t usually care what happens to former players on the teams I root for – it’s a binary – you’re on the team I root for you – once gone – you’re irrelevant – however I think it’s awesome (deserved or not, ELEVEN people only vote for it?) that Andre Iguodala got the kind of recognition he got nationally last night. Very few guys got more grief for no reason than he did while he was in Philadelphia.

      2. Larry Brown – SHUT UP – coach SMU basketball and Shut up

      • AaronMcKie4MVP

        not that i know much about the non-US players….. but the same pros I hear about Porzingis sound very similar to what i also heard about Jan Vessley a few years ago..

        • Not that I trust Chad Ford much – but he was asked about ‘euro busts’ and Porzingis yesterday…he said the difference was ‘love of the game’. He felt guys like darko and skita (he didn’t talk about vessley) didn’t seem to really love basketball and Porzingis does.

          Recency bias seems to make everyone fear Euros

          • AaronMcKie4MVP

            lol. i wouldn’t say i distrust euro prospects, just seems like all these sleek shooting 7 footers with no muscle mass all get branded as the next Dirk.

            knowing that Derek doesn’t have all the insights, he certainly knows more than me. id love to get his update on his view the Sixers draft strategies. Last time he wrote about it, Prozingis wasn’t even a top 10 pick… now it sounds like 2 or 3 is very possible… Even Draft Express has him #3 and those guys aren’t rumor mongers.

            • If i recall correctly (it’s been a while) DraftExpress lists their mocks purely best on Best Player available (in their opinion)

              Probably make you up set that the wolves are now bringing him in for a work out – I think it’s smoke.

              Though – if the NBA is moving towards a more perimeter power of 3 type game – why are big men still the primary top 2?

              PS – Congrats to the sixers, after the clippers proved how you can go horribly wrong with new jersey/logos – I like the new look – more classic to me (not that I care so much about all the uniform types – but in this day and age to go so wrong as the clippers did is just emblematic that new ownership doesn’t mean anything better is going to happen now does it)

              • AaronMcKie4MVP

                in Sam we Trust.

                i know people who used to say that about Dalembert

                • I was never one of them – promise 🙂

  • I guess Okafor is the ‘right’ pick, but honestly, Porzingis would have been more fun cause of the hand wringing.

    Let the trade noel cause he doesn’t fit with Okafor without having played a minute together talk commence.

    • AaronMcKie4MVP

      yeah , can’t really blame them… i’m guessing they trade it down at some point tonight…

      • Well according to reports they ain’t moving him.

        Mudiay is still available at 7 – do you value him more than the lakers pick – just in theory?

  • BTW – I’m not one of those ‘they hate philly’ people in general, but ESPN was praising Ainge for accumulating assets and cap room.

    Interesting that they will demonize Sam Hinkie for doing the same thing is it not?

  • Just out of curiosity – as you seem to be putting on more hats for various outlets (and kudos on that by the way), will you still be putting stuff up here?

  • AaronMcKie4MVP

    how about a new article, man.

  • Merhaba,
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    Daha sonra eğer öyleyse veya kiralık ev, biz biz kredi 5,000.00 ve örneğin gelemez mi herhangi bir süre EUR 500,000,000.00 dolar sterlin maksimum ve müşterinin isteği olmalıdır kredinin her türlü teklif, cevap vardır:
    * Bireysel Kredi
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    * Özel kredisi
    Ve daha fazlası …..
    % 3 faiz oranı ve hemen anında bize geri takiben bilgiler gelebilir kredi başvuru formunu doldurduktan sonra:
    Kredi Başvurusu
    Adı: ______________________________
    Gerekli kredinin miktarı: ___________________________
    Cinsel: ___________________________________________
    Medeni Hali: _________________________________
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    Devlet: ________________ Yaş: _________________
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    E-posta yoluyla bize ulaşın: anthonydavisloanfirm@gmail.com
    Anthony Davis