While most Phoenix Suns fans spent their summers day-dreaming about one lengthy, jump-shooting forward making his way out to the desert, a different one has quietly been ramping up to do the same.
The 2021 NBA Finals may not strike as an event worth recalling for Suns fans, but if you run the tapes back, you can see that the Suns lost a key rotation piece due to injury during its opening chapter. It was one of the many things that simply did not go Phoenix’s way—allowing the Larry O’Brien to evade the team’s grasp once again.
But now being removed from that championship series by over a year, that piece is ready to come back into the fold. Of course, I’m referring to Croatian big man Dario Saric.
While recovering from an ACL tear and eventual meniscus surgery, Saric sat out for the entirety of Phoenix’s 2021-22 campaign. However, Saric did not waste that time by any means. He spent nearly the entire season working his way back into playing shape.
In that task, Saric appears to have succeeded, as this week he announced his plans to play in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament for his home country of Croatia. The event is scheduled to begin on September first, with Saric set to play beside fellow countrymen and NBA opponents Ivica Zubac and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Phoenix Suns Big Man Dario Saric will Play in EuroBasket 2022
While speaking on the affair with EuroBasket.com’s Johnny Askounis, Saric called it an “honor” to play for Team Croatia. He also mentioned that the team plans to “steadily increase his workload” while working him into the rotation.
Saric did speak on his plans and future with the Phoenix Suns as well. Although Saric noted that his current focus remains on EuroBasket, he does intend to go back to Phoenix after the tournament, but also acknowledged how that could change given the unpredictable nature of the NBA.
“Right now, the plan is to go back to Phoenix,” said Saric. “I talked with the coach, but you never know in the NBA. I don’t worry about that. I am trying to come back from injury and my focus is on the national team.”
Last season, the Suns dangled the sidelined Saric around as trade bait more than once. With him now on an expiring contract, the team might look to move him before the 2022 offseason ends or around the trade deadline should the team struggle to re-implement him into the rotation.
But even with Saric’s words and contract situation accounted for, all signs still point to him suiting up for Phoenix again this fall. Saric averaged a career-high points per 36 minutes the last time we saw him and posted solid .447/.848/.348 shooting splits. His versatility as a floor stretching and switchable big also makes him a key asset to maintain.
The same can be said regarding Saric’s position and Phoenix’s team needs. Saric could become even more valuable just as a body down on the block if Jae Crowder’s suspected unhappiness with the team escalates—potentially weakening the team down low overall.