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Darko Milicic adds size to Timberwolves

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Darko Milicic adds size to Timberwolves

The 7-footer said he was out of shape, but he impressed nonetheless in his Wolves debut.

By JERRY ZGODA, Star Tribune

Last update: February 21, 2010 - 11:44 PM

Out of shape but no longer out of sight, Darko Milicic made his Timberwolves debut Sunday evening and played his first NBA game in more than three months.

It was the start of a 26-game audition that, unless something remarkably unexpected happens, will end April 14 against Detroit, the team that drafted him second overall in 2003.

Stung that the New York Knicks traded him to the Wolves last week rather than buy out the remaining weeks of his $7.5 million contract so he can return home to Serbia, Milicic spoke publicly after the team's Sunday morning shootaround.

He was asked if he can envision himself playing in the NBA next fall after seven unfulfilling seasons.

"Hard, really hard, to see me playing," he said. "But you never know what could happen. Stuff happens you don't think will happen. Right now, it's 100 percent I'll go back to Europe and play."

The Wolves traded little-used veteran Brian Cardinal for Milicic on Wednesday in a swap of expiring contracts that boss David Kahn considers a low-risk move to try out a 7-foot center who theoretically fits the team's biggest needs.

The "stuff" Milicic referred to that probably will need to happen for him to re-sign with the Wolves beyond this season: He would have to thrive and the Wolves would have to win, or at least play considerably better, over the season's closing weeks.

"I went through a lot of bad experience in this league," Milicic said. "The 26 games left might be a good experience for me, but if it's a good experience, it's only 26 games. I have good stretches in this league. I have bad stretches in this league."

Buried on the Knicks bench since the season's second week, Milicic declared himself in "real bad" shape but willing nonetheless. He entered Sunday's game against Oklahoma City in the first quarter, played 19 minutes, had eight points, eight rebounds (four offensive), two assists, two personal fouls and a blocked shot, and he was on the floor with the game on the line in the final three minutes.

More notably, the Wolves surged whenever he was on the court. He finished the night a game-high plus-35, meaning when he was on the floor the Wolves outscored the Thunder by 35 points in a two-point loss.

Milicic, completing his seventh NBA season at just the age of 24, said he was angered by the Knicks' decision to trade him because he has a 7-month-old son and relocating to a new city for seven weeks complicates his life. Kahn traveled from Washington, D.C., to New York City on Thursday and met with Milicic over a long lunch to assure him about the trade.

"I try to make the best of it," he said. "Working hard to try to get back in shape. We'll see how it works for me, how it works for the team."

Milicic called the Wolves' system "good for big guys." A lefty, he played Sunday paired mostly with power forward Kevin Love.

"You can tell he has an extremely high basketball IQ," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "He just picked up stuff naturally without even having to tell him half the stuff. He just knows what to do. He can play opposite Al [Jefferson]. He can play opposite Kevin. He can play opposite Ryan Hollins or with Ryan Gomes. We see him being able to fit with everybody."

What Milicic apparently can't do is stomach losing, which is a bit problematic with his new team.

"Losing games, it's hard for everybody," he said. "I'm sick to be part of losing team. Inside me, I don't like to lose. ... I know here they think you play for yourself, you've got a long career in front of you. I can't do it. I can't play for myself. I want to play for something. I want to play for playoffs."

Kahn called a player selected before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in 2003 "traumatized" and "distraught" about his NBA career and said, "He sees this latest trade as just one more incident that has befallen him."

"It's not just somebody else's fault," Milicic said. "It was my fault, too. I can't just talk about other people screwing me up. I try to make the best of it here. See what happens the rest of the season and then decide what I'm going to do. Am I really going to go back to Europe or maybe something good happens here."

More notably, the Wolves surged whenever he was on the court. He finished the night a game-high plus-35, meaning when he was on the floor the Wolves outscored the Thunder by 35 points in a two-point loss.

Milicic, completing his seventh NBA season at just the age of 24, said he was angered by the Knicks' decision to trade him because he has a 7-month-old son and relocating to a new city for seven weeks complicates his life. Kahn traveled from Washington, D.C., to New York City on Thursday and met with Milicic over a long lunch to assure him about the trade.

"I try to make the best of it," he said. "Working hard to try to get back in shape. We'll see how it works for me, how it works for the team."

Milicic called the Wolves' system "good for big guys." A lefty, he played Sunday paired mostly with power forward Kevin Love.

"You can tell he has an extremely high basketball IQ," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "He just picked up stuff naturally without even having to tell him half the stuff. He just knows what to do. He can play opposite Al [Jefferson]. He can play opposite Kevin. He can play opposite Ryan Hollins or with Ryan Gomes. We see him being able to fit with everybody."

What Milicic apparently can't do is stomach losing, which is a bit problematic with his new team.

"Losing games, it's hard for everybody," he said. "I'm sick to be part of losing team. Inside me, I don't like to lose. ... I know here they think you play for yourself, you've got a long career in front of you. I can't do it. I can't play for myself. I want to play for something. I want to play for playoffs."

Kahn called a player selected before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in 2003 "traumatized" and "distraught" about his NBA career and said, "He sees this latest trade as just one more incident that has befallen him."

"It's not just somebody else's fault," Milicic said. "It was my fault, too. I can't just talk about other people screwing me up. I try to make the best of it here. See what happens the rest of the season and then decide what I'm going to do. Am I really going to go back to Europe or maybe something good happens here."

http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/84926642.html?page=1&c=y


cargathus
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darko

You know, even if he is a bust its nice to hear him saying it was his fault too. It almost seems like he has matured a little bit.

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Hope

There might be a little hope left for this young fella. He's only 24 and with the right mentor I think he still has a chance to change his ways in this league. It's not like he doesn't have the tools, I think his mind isn't right. With Rambas and Khan to motivate him, I think he has a chance of changing this leagacy in this league and prove everyone wrong. He's lost a lot of coinfidence and is just bitter. Looks like the wolves are trying to train his mind and make him believe in himself again as he once did coming into the league, thinking he could be the #1 overall draft pick over James. It's pretty clear to say that he won't be as good as his draftmates in; James, Melo, Wade and Bosh. He can change the way people call him a bust and he can become a legit center in this league.

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He won't stay

I don't think he'll stay in nba after this season. He lost confidence in GM and coaches in the nba, even if Kahn and Rambis prove him wrong, it's not sure at all he'll stay in Minnesota because he wants to win, to do the playoffs. And Minnesota isn't ready for playoff contention in the next 2 seasons at least.

But he showed great mentality saying it was also his fault if he's a draft bust. This image sticks to him so badly. Have you ever read an article about Milicic without the words "bust", "Draft 2003", "taken before Melo, D-wade and Bosh" ? That was so much pressure on his shoulders, i understand he wants to leave and if I was him I'll go to Europe whatever run he makes with the Wolves.

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If you listened to or

If you listened to or watched the game last night (most of you didn't, Ill guarantee that) you would notice how well the ball moved around on O when he was in the game vs. when he wasn't. Check out his +/-. While he's not a dominant player, he def. had an impact on the game, at least last night. I was pleasantly surprised as a T-Wolves fan. And the fans in Minny loved him. Good work from a guy who admittedly was out of shape.

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lol

lol

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Another note, he still is

Another note, he still is only 24 which is about the age of a college senior. He still can make something of himself IMO. Brian Cardinal on the other hand has no more future in this league. Might as well get a guy who is young and had huge expectation (but did not live up to them) than a guy who is just going to be released or buried on the bench regardless.

the lake show
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i wouldnt bet towards him

i wouldnt bet towards him doing anything. theres a post about him everytime hes gotten traded. each one saying this time he will step up because
1.he will get more playing time because there arent many big men on the team
2. this coach likes euro big men so he will get many chances
3. he's finally leanred and is ready to do better
4. his confidence is finally up

and so far just about everytime he ends up going to the end of the bench then getting traded
now im not saying its impossible for him to be relevent because anything is possible, i could win the lotto tommorrow, but with his history the percentages are on the side of him not doing much on this team either

rtbt
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Milcic Yet Again

This is one of those rare days when I actually agree with Quincey. I'm going to talk more about Milicic below, but at the age of 24 [or is it 25], it's time for him to accept responsibility and become the kind of player a guy with his immense physical talent should be.

Milicic finally returned to the court last night in Minnesota against the Thunder. He played 19 minutes, which is probably close to his grand total for the entire season with the Knicks earlier this year. In that brief period of time, an out of shape Milicic shot 4 for 7 from the field, had 8 rebounds, and blocked 1 shot. I know it was only one game, but it once again illustrates that if given an opportunity to play, Milicic has the talent to be a legitimate NBA center.

The worst thing that happened to him was going to a veteran Detroit Piston team at the age of only 18, where he was subsequently glued to the bench for almost 3 seasons. I'm convinced that experience destroyed his self confidence, and so far, he never regained it. Although Milicic must accept responsibility for his failures, several teams broke promises that he would play regularly. The Knicks were the last to do such, as he received virtually no court time throughout the first half of the season. And this was on a team with no big men, no rebounding, and no shot blocking.

Let's hope Minnesota keeps their promise to give him a full blown opportunity. Then the burden will be on Milicic to put up or shut up for the remainder of this season.

the lake show
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the thing about promises is

the thing about promises is they only hold up as long as you show in practice and in games that you deserve the playing time. im sure the promises were " if you out play the other players or do very well in the games then you will play more". i dont think any team will tell you that you are going to get a certin amount of playing time no matter what

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Quincey on Milicic

Quincey, just as you mentioned above, "show in games that you deserve playing time". The Knicks NEVER game him an opportunity to show what he could do in games. That's the promise they broke when he signed with them last year. It's not a promise of specific minutes, it's the promise that we will give you a chance to show what you can do.

I don't care who you are, unless you have an opportunity to play every night, you're going nowhere.

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but to get to the point of

but to get to the point of playing you have to show it in practice. a coach isnt gonna play a guy just because. its the same in hs or college if you arent showing you can contribute while in practice then what reason does a coach have to play you?

rtbt
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Quincey

I don't buy that practice argument. NBA players earn their money by their performances in games, not in practice. For my money, what happened to Milicic is identical to Jordan Hill's experience in New York. They drafted him number one, gave him virtually no playing time, declared him a bust, and traded him to Houston.

For me, Jordan Hill isn't a bust until he's given an real opportunity to play every night and fails. And the same is true for Darko Milicic.

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was anybody familiar with

was anybody familiar with what his game was like before he came to the nba? i think that muscle larry brown wanted him to gain hurt his game in the long run

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you dont have to buy it but

you dont have to buy it but thats just how it is. if you ask a coach about practice they will tell you the same thing. if a player looks bad in practice then how is a coach suppossed to know if a gy will look good in a game where theres more pressure?..yeah players get paid all that money to perform but alot of players get contracts for just in case someone gets hurt. why play darko if david lee is killing and al harrington is killing coming off the bench?..people tend to forget that if a bench player is playing that means he is taking time away from another player. lee and harrington are clearly better then darko as well as jeffires so why play darko over any of them if they all help the team win while darko doesnt even look read when he's in practice? just because someone is drafted high doesnt mean they have to play. in basketball just like in all sports you should have to earn youre minutes. you dont just play a guy because a fan wants him to play or the kid wants to play. you play them because they earn it in practice and when they do play they help you more then they hurt you plus they help you more in the game then other guys on youre team in limited minutes. if they cant do any of those things then they dont deserve minutes and the more someone else plays better in there limited minutes the less time the guy is gonna get. its not like darko has never gotten a chance. he's had games where he has gotten minutes and some he played soo so or not real bad. but.. others who have played his position have played better when they were given the same amount of time so they earned the minutes over darko. and i agree jordan is far from a bust because he's still a rookie

the lake show
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thats the thing GatHator. he

thats the thing GatHator. he wasnt tearing it up on club teams over in europe either. dumars probably saw how he would play well in workouts against other young guys who didnt have nba talent and saw how young he was and figured he must have great potential. the thing is not every big young kid has great potential like some people think. some players are what they are and they dont have as high of a celing that we think they have. maybe just maybe this is as good as darko is gonna get and some people just cant handle that

rtbt
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Promise to Milicic

Minnesota GM David Kahn went to NY and promised Milicic an opportunity to play regularly in Minnesota for the remainder of the season. Kahn didn't say if you look like a star in practice, we'll let you play in the real games.

Milicic was in Minnesota only one day and was given more playing time his first day with the team than he had the entire first half of the season in New York. It had absolutely nothing to do with how he performed in practice.

And much to my surprise, an out of shape Milicic did relatively well. That's how you earn more playing time, by doing well in games. And you can't do well in games if the coach glues you to the end of the bench, which is what D'Antoni did to him.

the lake show
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ok is that word for word

ok is that word for word what he said?..is that part of what he said?.... and do you recall eddie currys first game back?...the emotion and being hyped?..you dont get to see the real player till the newness and all the hype dies down. anyone that has played organized basketball will tell you that thats the unwritten rule. everyone knows you have to earn youre time no matter what the coach tells you. its one of those things that dont have to be said. maybe the average fan or guys who enever played may not know but anyone who has played knows not to expect to just come in and start and be the star right away without earning it in practice. if im recruited to a school and i come in looking like sh$t in practice im not gonna start or get alot of playing time over a guy who has been kicking my azz up and down the court in practice. i may get time when we get a blow out or when someone gets hurt though. or if the team has barely anyone at my position and they are just bad. in that case alot of people will look better then they are while getting more time but when there is actual competition with good players competing and the team is good thats when you see how good a player really is. just like how someone may be very good in college then get to the nba where they have to compete with other players who were good in college, and all of a sudden they arent getting the same amount of time or shots. cant just put a guy in the game over someone hes not better than or over a guy who helps the team more when hes in there

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i hope darko realizes this

i hope darko realizes this is a business. you cant just go in thinking you are gonna get things handed to you just because someone says something or without earning it. if its not in youre contract then all it is is words. and fans should know that as well especially with all these gms saying" this guy isnt on the trading block or that guy isnt" or " we will build around this or that guy" then next thing you know he's traded. just cant believe everything you hear from coachs, gms,players. or just people in general. in a perfect world you would be able to but this is reality

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You got to prove in practice

You got to prove in practice that you can play in games...He must not have practiced well. Hell, rtbt even said himself "an out of shape Darko." How did he get out of shape? It's not like he had some big offseason to get out of shape. That speaks to how lazy he is and it shows that he can't have been working hard in practice for the Knicks.

I've given up on Darko since he was in Memphis, but now, he deserves to be out of the NBA. He couldn't see the floor in D'Antoni's player-friendly system. That speaks to his overall effectiveness as a player.

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I'm standing by my Ryan

I'm standing by my Ryan Hollins has more promise than Darko arguement from the other day. Darko had a decent game in the first time he got some decent playing time this season, a game reminiscent to what he did in Orlando. He did what he is good at which is rebound block shots make layups and miss free throws, I haven't closed the books on him, but I don't expect this kind of game to be the norm for him in on a Wolves team stacked with big men. Until he improves other aspects of his game I think his value is limited to a shot blocking/rebounding guy in the mold of Sagana Diop. I would still give Hollins more minutes because he has the ability, in my opinon, to become a more complete player who, like Darko, can use his length and athleticism on defense, but what sets him apart is that Hollins is more explosive and a better offensive player, is already a big man shooting 71% from the line. Don't get me wrong I don't think either one is going to be an great or even a very good player, but I think Hollins will be able to do more and could be a starter in the league who can compliment a very good power forward.

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An Assumption by Quincey

You guys made some interesting points and I'd like to address some of them.

Quincey, you assumed Milicic didn't play in NY because he didn't practice well. I think he didn't play because much to my disappointment, D'Antoni is a big advocate of an 8 man rotation. If you're not in that rotation, you never get an opportunity. Conversely, if you are in the rotation, I don't care how poorly you play, you get time every night. Chris Duhon is a perfect example. Harrington is another guy who's incredibly inconsistent but D'Antoni gives him big minutes every game.

JNixon-Iggy9, you might be right about Milicic's work habit but game shape is not the same as being in shape for practice. It's hard to maintain peak condition sitting on the bench. Milicic never played in NY and games are where you build up the kind of stamina that takes you through a season. In addition, when you're in a situation where you never play, it's human nature to stop working hard. Yes I know some guys never give up but most people slow down when there's no reward.

As for JoeWolf1, I can't say much about Hollins other than the little bit that I saw, I wasn't impressed. You obviously know him a lot better than me so I'll accept your assessment. On the other hand, Milicic can provide rebounding and shot blocking, two things every coach says are critical. I never said Milicic was going anywhere on offense.

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rtbt

Yeah, I mean Hollins isn't great but I think he is closer to "getting it" than Darko. I know you didn't say Darko was going to be a force on offense and honestly now that I think about it I think he could be a Diop type player, who was an important piece on those good Dallas teams of the mid 2000's. Its just a matter of finding the right team. Kahn is giving him an opportunity to play which is good, what isn't is that the Wolves are stock piling point guards and centers and I think Darko, will get playing time, but I wonder if his minutes will be consistant over the next couple months

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Joe Wolf1

JoeWolf1, you made a number of comments about Milicic on various threads the past few weeks, many of them negative. I almost always agreed with you. The only place where we truly differ is I happen to think the guy has more potential than your limited assessment.

I'm in no way expecting him to be the starting center in next year's All Star game. However, if you give Milicic 24 minutes per night, I think he can produce about 8-10 ppg, 10-11 rebounds per game, and probably 2 blocked shots. Those aren't elite numbers, but it would at least make him an average NBA center. I think those are goals he can achieve if given a real opportunity by Minnesota.

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True, I think we represent

True, I think we represent opposite spectrums of people who were pulling for Darko at some point or another. I think everything you've said about Darko is intellegent and an accurate assesment. I always liked his athletic ability and followed him, and upon arriving in Memphis I thought he'd get a spot to conribute, he didn't and I guess I gave up on him. I respect the fact you still think he can get it together and your projected numbers I think are accurate for a best case or close to best case scenario for him would might be, but I truly think where we differ is that you believe in him and I do not, I guess time will only tell, I'll honestly be glad if he gets it together, I just dont think he will.

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but the ny coach didnt

but the ny coach didnt shorten his rotation till later... you have to look at it like this. if you have been traded that many times while not doing much then you have to stop blaming other people and start looking in the mirror and realize you are the problem. not the coaches or the other players

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Thanks for answerin my

Thanks for answerin my qustion quincyhodges. From the few scouting reports i could find on him he sounded like a Bargnani clone...i figured maybe when he added all that weight and muscle like brown wanted him to so he could play the 5 instead of the 4/3 maybe messed up what his game originally was and it took him a few years to find his niche as a shot blocker.

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reggie miller was just

reggie miller was just talking about how lifting weights doesnt mess up youre game. it actually makes you stronger and youre able to handle contact. but thats weight you put on from working out not fat like darko has added

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wooo boy

all this thread for a bust like Darko... that's interesting..LOL

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havent you noticed that the

havent you noticed that the threads that get the most play are former or new younger knicks that arent good

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