PHOENIX - DECEMBER 15: Darko Milicic #31 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a free throw shot against the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 15 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 128-122. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Enter Darko Milicic - the poster boy for wasted potential. He was picked way too high for his talent and never developed the way he could or perhaps should have, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have value.
Today was scheduled to be Keyon Dooling Day, but that plan has become OBE (overcome by events). You are welcome to wax poetic about The Reverend and wish him well on his post-basketball career (I wonder if he'll get more heavily involved in the Players Association) and I hope you'll join me in a farewell flex or two. But time marches on and as we draw closer to camp, we have a new face to get used to.
I'll start off by saying a few names. You stop me when you see a pattern. Michael Olowokandi, Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, Ricky Davis, Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Rasheed Wallace, and Shaq. Each is a unique story and situation, but one thing they all had was talent. A lot of it was wasted talent (Candy Man, Telfair to an extent) or over-the-hill talent (Shaq, Payton, Sheed, etc.), but the potential was there and the value was low. Ainge seems to believe that talent always deserves another chance to thrive and with Doc he has an ideal coach to get the most out of those players.
Enter Darko Milicic - the poster boy for wasted potential. He was picked way too high for his talent and never developed the way he could or perhaps should have, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have value. As a minimum contract backup center, he's got value and he could very well help this team. As wjsy pointed out, he's got zero expectations coming in here. All he needs to do is team up with Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins to give KG some decent minutes of rest.
There is some downside risk here. He does fill up a roster spot. It is the same one that Dooling vacated today, but that's still a roster spot that might have gone to a young player that might have shown some potential. Also, perhaps more serious is the risk of his attitude. Darko has been accused of being somewhat of a locker room albatross in some situations. That won't play in Boston. But again, if that kind of thing happens, it is no skin off the team's teeth to just waive him and be done with the issue.
From where I sit, the upside is worth the risk (and the bust jokes). The best case is that he has one of his better years as a backup on a veteran, winning team that he hasn't been around since first few years in the league where he couldn't break the rotation. The realistic case is that he gives us another big body that knows his way around a basketball court. That works for me.
Free Darko? No, he wasn't free, but he's pretty cheap, so that works.