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.