Getting Saric now is a steal for the Sixers because of the contract he has to sign. According to Toporek, a team can sign a player to the terms of a rookie scale only within three years of drafting him. With Saric coming to the NBA two years after being drafted, he is still eligible for the rookie scale, meaning that he will be paid about $10.7 million over three years.
Had Saric waited one more season to come to the NBA, he could have signed a much bigger contract. As Toporek states, if a team doesn't sign a player they drafted within three seasons, the player can negotiate a contract as if he were a regular free agent. Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic did this two years ago, as he waited three years before joining the Bulls, then signed a three-year, $16 million contract. With a rising salary cap leading to massive salaries across the NBA, it's likely that Saric could have negotiated a much bigger contract than the $10.7 million he'll make over three years.
However, it may be a calculated move by Saric, too. As Toporek notes, an uncertain future lingers over the NBA as both the league and the players union can opt out of the CBA this December, which could potentially lead to a lockout. With new negotiations and possibly a new CBA, the terms for signing a drafted player could change. Saric may have opted for the certainty of a contract now, rather than waiting it out, only to see a potential lockout or new terms for signing a draft pick.
Nonetheless, it's a dose of luck for the 76ers. A prized draft pick who they've been waiting for is not only paying for part of his own buyout, he's joining the team under a fairly long, team-friendly rookie contract.
Ranking the biggest NBA Draft busts
Biggest NBA Draft Busts
Biggest NBA Draft Busts
25. Anthony Bennett
We're trying to hold judgement given he's still just 22 years old, but it's not looking too bright for former No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett. The Cavaliers dealt him to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade, and after averaging five points per game over 57 contests last season, the forward is on the trading block again. It's unfortunate that Cleveland selected him in a position he had no business going, and ruining his mental stability in the process.
24. Derrick Williams
Thought of in the same breath as Kyrie Irving during the months leading up to the 2011 draft, Derrick Williams eventually got scooped up at No. 2 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The freakishly athletic forward has never been able to make his talent translate to the pro game after dominating at Arizona. He's on his second NBA team, averaging nine points over his first four years.
23. Robert Traylor
A sixth-overall selection, Robert "Tractor" Traylor never amounted to the star Milwaukee drafted him to be. He spent just a pair of seasons with the Bucks, averaging 4.5 points in 13 minutes before moving on to the Cavaliers and Hornets. One of the league's most imposing figures averaged five points over his seven pro seasons.
22. Jared Jeffries
"Mr. Basketball" in Indiana during his high school days, Jared Jeffries was the 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Wizards. He actually managed to bust twice, averaging just six points and five rebounds with the Wizards, then garnering a five-year, $30 million deal from the Knicks -- where he posted even lesser numbers.
21. Joe Smith
And to think the Timberwolves went out of their way to sign this guy to an illegal contract. The 1995 No. 1 pick got off to a fine start over this first three year swith the Warriors, but it was all down hill from there. Joe Smith spent 16 years in the league with 13 different teams, averaging 11 points and six rebounds. Not bad, but for a first-overall pick, not good.
18. Michael Sweetney
Even in the famed 2003 draft class, the Knicks still managed to disappoint with their ninth-overall selection of Georgetown big man Mike Sweetney. Listed at 275 pounds as a rookie, Sweetney ballooned to 450 by the twilight of his NBA days with the Celtics. In two years with the Knicks, he averaged seven points and five rebounds.
12. Jonny Flynn
The second of three point guards not named Stephen Curry selected by Minnesota in 2009, Jonny Flynn was taken with the sixth overall pick. Flynn held down the point guard position in Minnesota during the late 2000s, and it didn't go as planned. The Syracuse product actually performed so-so in his rookie year, when he started 81 games, but tailed off dramatically after. He's been out of the league since 2012.
11. Joe Alexander
Going eighth overall in 2008 out of West Virginia, Joe Alexander showed us one of the most swift exits from the NBA ever. After a sub-par rookie season in Milwaukee, he was shipped out to the Bulls, where he eight games in 2009-10 before falling out of the league all together.
4. Adam Morrison
The mustached man out of Gonzaga lasted just four years in the pros before falling out of the league, averaging just 11.5 minutes per game after his rookie season. But the 6'8" forward is a two-time NBA champion, watching from the bench as his Lakers teams won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
2. Sam Bowie
With Michael Jordan still on the board in 1984, Portland selected then-promising big man Sam Bowie with the second overall pick. Battling injuries, he played in just 139 games over five years, posting 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds over his Blazers tenure. He spent more than a decade in the league as a serviceable role player, but will rest in basketball lore as one of the biggest busts in sports history -- thanks to MJ.
1. Darko Milicic
Reaffirming every NBA team's fear of drafting relatively unknown European players, Darko Milicic was famously selected second overall in 2003 by Detroit. Just after LeBron James, and right before Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He'd last just two-plus seasons there, leaving Pistons fans wondering how much successful their already-great teams of the mid-2000s could've been.