Dario Saric

Why Saric projects as excellent Warriors fit in Kerr's system

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With Draymond Green secured in the first hour of free-agent negotiations eight days ago, the Warriors followed the commands of their financials and settled in for the waiting game.

After big bucks were spent on big names over the weekend, NBA wallets tightened until most franchises tumbled toward the same space as Golden State, scanning bargain racks for players willing to accept minimum contracts.

Not until Saturday were incoming Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy and his front-office crew able to reel in one of their top targets, agreeing to a one-year contract with forward/center Dario Šarić for the $2.7 million veteran’s minimum.

The Warriors zeroed in on Šarić, 29, early in the evaluation process and spent the last eight days hoping he wouldn’t be pried away by a team offering more money or a longer term. Their patience was rewarded.

Of the remaining free agents on the market, Šarić is by far the best fit for the needs of the Warriors.

The 6-foot-10 Croatian is coming off an expired contract worth $27 million over three years. He is two years removed from surgery to repair a torn right ACL that cost him the entire 2021-22 season and 13 months ago led to arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus in the same knee.

Šarić fills the need for a “stretch big” capable of producing much in the same way as Otto Porter Jr. did during their 2022 championship season. The Warriors visualize Šarić as a scoring threat – he averaged double-figure scoring in four of his six active NBA seasons – providing a change of pace from traditional non-shooting big men Kevon Looney and Draymond Green.

Though Šarić is a skilled passer, with excellent court feel, he has a respectable 3-point shot from most anywhere along the arc. He’s a 36.0-percent shooter from distance for his career but reached a near-career-high 39.1 percent splitting last season between the Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Šarić is an underrated defender, too, capable of deterring invasions into the paint. Though not a lob threat, he possesses most of the skills required to earn consistent minutes under Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Paired with new backup point guard Chris Paul, Golden State has two court-smart vets capable of easing the game for 21-year-olds Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

Šarić is the latest in a string of one-year summer acquisitions – all on minimum contracts – designated for such a role, dating back to Jonas Jerebko (2018), Omari Spellman (2019), Porter (2021) and JaMychal Green last season. Only Porter made a positive impact.

It took a while to finalize the deal, which is no great surprise. The first few days tend to belong to front offices waving eight- and nine-figure contracts that usually cover at least three years. Once Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard requested a trade late last week, players still on the market became more deliberate due to the possibility of more choices.

The Šarić acquisition – it’s expected to become official shortly – puts Golden State’s roster at 13. One addition is anticipated, but it remains unlikely the total will exceed 14. The Warriors got the player they had in their sights long before the mad rush into the market. Sarić, like Paul, is ready to join them this season in their naked pursuit of a fifth championship in the Stephen Curry era.

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