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Report: Dario Saric will join NBA next season if Celtics or Lakers draft him

May 29, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

BASKET-EURO-2013-ESP-CRO Getty Images

Dario Saric – a 20-year-old Croatian forward – is currently an early entry in the 2014 NBA draft.

He also held the same status at this point before the 2013 draft, but he withdrew. Saric could do the same this year by 5 p.m. June 16.

Before it comes to that, he’s angling for his preferred destinations.

David Pick of EuroBasket:

Not only do the Celtics (No. 6) and Lakers (No. 7) have high picks, they’re storied franchises with strong foundations. Saric would make more money by going higher – our mock draft has him going No. 12 – and he would have a better chance of succeeding while playing for teams he believes fit him.

But why would Boston or Los Angeles go for that?

It’s possible Saric, a ball-handling wing, impresses them. But there are a lot of talented players vying to be top-seven picks, and right now, Saric is on the outside looking in.

There are some teams in Saric’s range – looking at you Philadelphia at No. 10 – that might actually prefer he not sign immediately, so they get an extra year of tanking of a year and/or avoid paying his salary next season. He didn’t seem interested in going that route last year, but a new set of teams are now positioned to draft and stash him.

We’ll see how much hardball Saric wants to play with teams besides the Celtics and Lakers, but this might be the first step to Saric withdrawing again.

He’s leaving his doors open for now. Remember, this report says nothing about what Saric would do if a team other than the Celtics or Lakers drafts him – though the implication exists.

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