How is Darko doing in Minnesota?

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott asked Idan Ravin (a private trainer) a few questions about the Minnesota Timberwolves, who just had him in for a few workouts. Abbott asked about how the team was looking and Ravin mentioned a familiar name:

And Darko Milicic — he’s way more talented than anyone ever gave him credit for. He has been beat up in his first six years in the NBA. I wish I could sneak you into the gym so you could see what he can do. He really is seven-feet-plus. He’s really bouncy. He’s really running. You can see why it was a debate who should be first, second or third in that draft.

And your’e a Carmelo guy!

Carmelo’s my guy. But Darko’s ta-len-ted. They’re doing something smart here by welcoming him openly, and making him feel a part of what’s happening. He’s a good kid. There’s nothing bad about him. What’s the point of all the yelling and screaming and cursing and insulting that he has endured? Once you have lost your dignity and self respect, it’s hard to be professional. Now he’s somewhere where they are acting like they’re happy to see him, and it’s awesome.

For all his struggles, Milicic is just 24 (a year younger than ’07 draftees Aaron Brooks and Acie Law) and has been through a lot of adversity in his career. Some of it was his own doing, and some of it was being unfortunate enough to start his career under Larry Brown. In 2005-06, the year he was traded to Orlando and got decent minutes, he had a PER of 15.21 (which is above average) and shot 51%. He was solid (13.88) in his second season in Orlando as well.

Even though he’s getting 20+ minutes in Minnesota, Milicic still plans to abandon the NBA and head overseas to play professionally.

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Great Quotes: Darko Milicic

“It’s the NBA. The NBA, all around the league, same (garbage). ‘Your chance is going to come.’ All that kind of (garbage). (Forget) that…I’ve got to be real. There is no team in the league that is going to give me the chance that I’m looking for. My only chance is back in Europe. I’m going to do that. I want to be happy. I want to play.”

Darko Milicic, via, on all the lying that goes on in the NBA

Part of me feels bad for this guy. Coming to the U.S. from another country, he spent his rookie season as an 18-year-old kid playing for Larry Brown. Then I check out his page at Basketball-Reference and see that he has made more than $30 million, and I don’t feel bad for him anymore.

He complains about not getting his chance, but it’s not like he was stuck on one team under one regime his entire career. He has played for four different franchises, so he has had plenty of opportunity. He wants playing time? He played 23 minutes for the Magic and Grizzlies in back to back seasons and didn’t average more than 8.0 points or 6.0 rebounds either year.

If he’s such a good player, he would dominate in practice and his head coach would be forced to give him minutes. It’s not like there’s a league-wide conspiracy to keep Darko Milicic down. Head coaches want to win, and if that means he gets big minutes, so be it. If that means he rides the bench, so be it.

When a team acquires a player and keeps him around for a while, that’s an opportunity. It’s his job to practice hard and keep improving to the point where the coach has to give him playing time. If he doesn’t, he’s just squandering the opportunity. And Milicic has squandered plenty…

Knicks eyeing to move David Lee

The Boston Globe is reporting that the New York Knicks are looking to work a sign-and-trade deal for center-forward David Lee in another salary cap cutting move towards the 2010 free agent market.

Much of the speculation centers around a deal involving Lee and the #8 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft going to Memphis for the #2 pick and backup center Darko Milicic. This would allow the Knicks to draft international star point guard Ricky Rubio, who has made it known that he wants to play in a major United States sports market.

The Spaniard has a complicated, multi-million dollar contract with his European team, DKV Joventut Barcelona. Before June 30th, the club will grant Rubio’s freedom from his contract for $6.6 million (NBA teams are allowed only to contribute a maximum of $500,000 to buy out a contract of a foreign player), and after June 30th, the price tag expands to $8 million.

Other trade rumors include the Knicks packaging Lee, forward Jared Jeffries and the #8 pick to Toronto for forward Chris Bosh or to Phoenix for disgruntled power forward Amare Stoudemire.

The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

Pistons’ struggles can be traced back to 2003

With the second pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select…

Darko Milicic.

This is the blackest mark on GM Joe Dumars’ otherwise solid record guiding the Pistons, but six years later, the Milicic pick is having a domino effect on the franchise. While Dumars did successfully dupe the Magic into trading a first round pick for Milicic in 2006 (which resulted in the selection of Rodney Stuckey in the 2007 draft) the Milicic pick still haunts this franchise. Just take a look at the next few selections in that 2003 draft…

Read the rest after the jump...

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