Darko Milicic had a rather startling answer after practice this morning when Phil Miller asked him whether he'd return to the Timberwolves next season if the team guaranteed him a starting job and 30 to 35 minutes a game.
He said yes.
Now, he also said the team would have to make off-season moves that proves things are bound to get better. He was very clear this 0-4 road trip from which the team returned Saturday was truly miserable. He finished the trip with a 16-point, 12-rebound game Friday in L.A. He missed the final five minutes because of back spasms he attributed to conditioning issues.
But he also indicated the right environment where he can grow and develop as a player -- not money, destination or other factors -- is most important to him.
"I just want to play next year. I'm not trying to show people I deserve to be second pick. I just want to see the best I can be," Milicic said. "This is the best league in the world. I want to get a real chance."
It sounds like he still wants to live the NBA dream, but without having to live up to the expectations of the guy drafted ahead of Camelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
He said he doubts any other NBA team would make him such a guarantee, so "if it doesn't happen here, it's not going to happen anywhere else. If I don't make a deal with these guys here, it's going to be in Europe. But who knows?"
Of course, the Wolves don't seem willing to guarantee Kevin Love a starting job and 30 to 35 minutes a game, so...
If Darko is your long-term starter, would that have to mean Love or Al Jefferson gets traded this summer? I can't see Love -- and certainly not Big Al -- being happy as a sixth man permanently.
Wonder what it will take to convince Darko that things will indeed get better here.
My initial reaction to this is... whoa whoa WHOA, wait a second here. I mean, really? Is this something the Front Office Brass is already prepared to do? I mean, let's not jump the gun here fellas. Yeah, I have been liking Darko's passing and legitimate big man defense as much as anyone, but let's get real. Also, I know that (cough cough) another Wolves site out there thinks that Darko is the second coming of JC and all, but talk about getting ahead of yourself here.
I like Darko for the fact that he's a legitimate seven footer, and the team has played better and more cohesively with him on the court. I don't like his conditioning (fatty Mcfatterson), but I guess he hasn't been perpetually out of shape during his career. And he is just 25, after all. He's probably better right now than any center we could draft (Aldrich, Cousins, Udoh, Favors, etc), although those guys probably have as much (or likely, more) upside.
And what would it cost to resign him? Has anyone thought about this at all? He's making the MLE now. So he'll come back and play for us for the minimum, despite the fact that he could easily get $5+ million per in Europe (taxfree bitches!) We'll have $10-12 or so milion in cap space this summer without Darko, and we want to use up $5 million of that on Darko freakin Miliillic? Uhhhhh, pass.
And I haven't even mentioned the guaranteed minutes yet. The Kahn-man and Rambis can't even guarantee one of our best players (Love) consistent minutes, but Darko will get a minimum of 30 per game? Not sure how that will work out. And with Darko back playing 30 minutes per game, that means we MUST trade Big Al, right? Granted, I'm all for trading Jefferson, but if this happened Mr. Sourly would, I imagine, be pretty pissed off. It might lower his trade value, but then again I'm not sure how much lower his trade value can get right now.
If we can move Jefferson for value (a wing player and another nice draft pick), then yeah, I guess let's resign Darko. They'd have to be high to give him more than $5 million per year, but even if he got that and we traded Jefferson it would still save us $8 or so million. That $8 million would be eaten up by the players we got in return for Al and the draft pick, but I think Darko + stud wing + another lottery pick is probably a decent way to spend that cash.
I like Darko, but let's not overpay him or react too quickly here.