Dario Saric, once thought of as a Sixers cornerstone, enjoying role with Phoenix Suns
Asked if there are any hard feelings toward the Sixers for trading him, Saric said, “I don’t know. You realize it’s a business."
PHOENIX — Dario Saric seemed to be at peace.
The Phoenix Suns power forward was smiling as he walked down the arena hallway after Monday’s shootaround.
“I like it,” he said, of being a Sun. "I like the people here. It’s kind of a great group of people on the court, my teammates. They are just great, great guys, and I really like it.”
On the court, the Croatian has been making the contributions he expected to make for a while as a Sixer. But last November, Philly traded the player who once was considered a franchise cornerstone to the Minnesota Timberwolves with Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton.
In July, the Timberwolves traded Saric and Cameron Johnson to the Suns for Jarrett Culver. Saric has averaged 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists through six games, all starts, for the Suns.
Asked if there are any hard feelings toward the Sixers for trading him, Saric said, “I don’t know. You realize it’s a business. Obviously, where I grew up in Europe, everything is kind of different.
“But I don’t blame nobody. That’s just life.”
Saric pointed out that the Sixers are a “totally different team” since he left, with all the roster moves and changes on Brett Brown’s coaching staff. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Furkan Korkmaz, Jonah Bolden, Shake Milton, and Zhaire Smith are the only holdover players from the start of last season.
Saric will become a free agent next July.
Excelling at intangibles
The Sixers haven’t always been impressive on the offensive end. Yet they headed into Monday night’s game as the NBA’s lone undefeated team.
The unblemished record results from the Sixers’ excelling at intangibles. They lead the league in steals at 11.4 per game. They are tied for second in blocks with the Miami Heat at 7.0. They are third (27.2) in assists and fourth (50.2) in rebounds.
Individually, Matisse Thybulle (2.8) and Simmons (2.6) remain the top two in steals. Josh Richardson is tied for 18th (1.6). Meanwhile, Simmons is sixth in assists (8.0).
“What we hang our hat on here is the defense, the defending, the rebounding, setting a tone,” power forward Al Horford said. “Offensively, there are areas we need to figure out. But as long as we’re consistent on the defensive end, that’s what going to put us in positions to win games that we don’t shoot it that well."
Korkmaz in elite company
Korkmaz’s game-winning three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left Saturday night marked the sixth time in 10 years that the Sixers won on a shot in the final second of a game. The last previous time: Butler made a game-winning three with 0.3 seconds left in overtime Nov. 17, 2018, against the Charlotte Hornets.
Here are the other Sixers who accomplished the feat: T.J. McConnell (at the buzzer Jan. 11, 2017, against the New York Knicks), Covington (0.2 left on Jan. 3, 2017, against the Timberwolves), and Evan Turner (buzzer on Jan. 29, 2014, vs. Boston Celtics, buzzer on Dec. 20, 2013 vs. Brooklyn Nets).