Wolves amnesty Darko for Batum’s offer sheet

Zach Harper —  July 13, 2012 — 5 Comments

It’s officially official that Darko Milicic is no longer a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The team used it’s one time amnesty provision during the life of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement to rid themselves of his cap number and roster space so they could have the room to make the 4-year, $46.5 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Nicolas Batum.

Darko Milicic has been somewhat of a lightning rod for some reason. When he was blocking shots two years ago and missing left-handed hooks, there were Wolves fans that wanted to believe he was a defensive stopper for this team. There were those that thought people were too critical of David Kahn and wanted to find the good in this insane contract that was given to a big man that had rarely shown any desire to improve his game and matter for good reasons in this league. There were people that wanted this team to be good so badly, they were willing to look past the warts to appreciate any positives he gave the team.

I don’t necessarily fault fans for doing this. We want to see the good in a player. We want him to realize his potential. We hope the Wolves’ players all come together and figure out how to win while playing their best. It’s part of wanting this team to be good. And Darko wasn’t completely useless a couple seasons ago. He DID block shots and he was okay on defense, overall. He can pass the ball, although not with the ability and proclivity that David Kahn once told Chris Webber. However, that’s where the “production” ended and where his true story begins.

Darko is not a good NBA player. Part of the reason he’s so noticeable in his awful play is because of where he was drafted and how he was hyped. This is unfair because Darko didn’t make the Pistons draft him ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He didn’t write the encouraging scouting reports pre and post-draft that made you wonder if he’ll be an All-Star big man. He didn’t really have anything to do with his popularity, other than possessing a certain agility, size, and skill set that GMs looking to save their jobs pray for drafting.

And it’s not his fault that David Kahn gave him an unwarranted four-year, $20 million contract two summers ago.

However, Darko Milicic is guilty in appearing to not really care whether he’s good or not. There is a certain work ethic and determination that is expected with this job and he seems to possess none of it. He sets himself up for failure by appearing to not have passion for getting better. Of course, that’s me assuming what’s inside his head and that may not be a fair assessment. Maybe he’s tried as hard as he’s capable of trying and has just hit a ceiling that was completely misjudged.

Actually, it’s that line of thinking that keeps giving him a pass in some respect. Some people have been making minor excuses for Darko for quite a while, trying to minimize the trouble and maximize the “what-if” factor. Darko Milicic is a horrible NBA player and mostly everybody has known it for years  He’ll still get chances in this league if he wants them because he’s tall. People will talk themselves into him being a decent backup big man and say, “you can do worse than Darko as your backup.”

Let me tell you that you can’t. I can throw out stats like his 54.1% in the restricted area (tied for 61st amongst centers) or his WS/48 of .003 last season or his assist percentage of 6.2% that was good for 34th amongst centers during 2011-12. I could tell you about the time he got injured on jump balls twice or how he injured himself during his conditioning test. But it’s unnecessary to waste our time breaking down his game.

Darko is apathy incarnate. I don’t mind if other teams take a chance on him. That actually helps the Wolves. And while I’ve been somewhat remorseful over the departure of certain disappointments over the years (Beasley being the most recent), there isn’t an iota of regret in seeing Darko having the exit held open for him.

Zach Harper

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5 responses to Wolves amnesty Darko for Batum’s offer sheet

  1. Any basketball player…I think we all played on a small hoop when we were younger. We all would dunk the ball hard any time we got the chance. That was one of the big head scratchers with Darko…why did he continuously feel the need to finesse the ball in to the hoop even when he was only 2 feet from it? Is he not aware of the fact that he is 7’1″ and agile? A guy like this drives others insane because a tiny percent of the population are given his talent/athleticism/height. He just can not and will never figure it out in the NBA. He should go overseas and play out his career or he should just retire. No one in the NBA has respect for this guy anymore.

  2. This prolonged push for Batum is confusing to me. Aren’t there any other guys that can help improve this team that might make more sense? OJ Mayo? Courtney Lee? Some back-up big men? I’m confused why the Wolves are expending so much energy and pushing so hard for this Batum deal, when it’s clear that they have a number of holes to fill? And the talk of giving up 2 first round picks for him at one point was really disconcerting.

  3. Matt, I think the logic in targeting Batum is that he fills multiple needs. That is, he’s a scorer AND a decent defender. Plus, he’s big and very athletic. Mayo and Lee don’t offer as much, in my opinion. But, I do think either of them would be better than Brandon Roy, as I’m not very confident his knees will hold up.

  4. It’s a good thing for the Wolves to take this all the way through. First, it’s possible (but not probable) that they would get Batum. Second, in the restricted free agent / sign and trade paradigm you need to have credibility that you will really make an high offer so the other team takes you seriously. You can’t just be all talk which is apparently one of Khan’s negatives – too much talk. Taking this all the way through makes other offers more likely to be taken seriously. Finally, probably, the best thing is the Wolves are doing addition by subtraction. No more Darko -, Webster might have been a good idea but he wasn’t a real starting #2 or #3. The Wolves have several marginally legitimate NBA players but they apparently view them as just a little better than they really are. (Darko, Webster, Randolph, Johnson, …). These guys are interchangeable with the dozens of other NBA players being cut loose. Since the Wolves overvalue them it’s a good thing for some impetus to make changes.

  5. It’s sad to see a player like Darko simply fall apart like that. I always rooted for him and in certain respects I still do. Hopefully he can just go an play in Europe. The NBA has become too traumatic for him.

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