Please, hear me out. Yes, we are talking about Darko Milicic, probably one of the worst high end draft picks in history. Milicic was drafted No. 2 overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 NBA Draft (the one where LeBron James went No. 1 and where Carmelo Anthony went No. 3, Chris Bosh went No. 4, Dwyane Wade went No. 5 and, well, you get the point).
Milicic has been a total bust, I agree. In nine NBA seasons, his numbers are more in line with a Von Wafer than they are with LeBron. Nine years, 467 games, 6.0 points per game. Oh, and 4.2 total rebounds per game. Not quite what one would hope for from a seven-footer, let alone the No. 2 pick part.
Trust me, I'm not here to tell you that Darko is really good. He's not No. 2 pick caliber. So for Boston Celtics fans who are groaning about the signing of the Serbian, let's take a deeper look into this move.
We've already established that Milicic isn't a top pick. While he never has or will live up to the hype, that does not mean he cannot be an effective NBA player in the role the Celtics will have him play. What exactly is that role? He's a backup big, note --not a starter. He'll give the Celtics' more important bigs a breather, that is, if he even gets any playing time. Translation, the Celtics aren't expecting big things.
With bigs Jason Collins, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo and Chris Wilcox on the roster, he isn't even a primary backup, and there's a chance he barely plays at all this season. So what's the point, then?
Obviously, Danny Ainge likes Darko for whatever reason. Maybe he sees something in him and has a role for him that no other GM in the league has had before. Danny has surprised us before, you know.
Take one Greg Stiemsma as an example.
Stiemsma was signed as a training camp body who worked his way into the last spot on the roster. Most of us were surprised that Stiemsma made the team last year, and we certainly didn't expect him to factor into games at all. Well, we were wrong. Stiemsma carved a niche as a solid defender (an even stronger shot blocker who developed into a strong all-around defender), and he helped the Celtics be successful.
Stiemsma was too expensive for the Celtics to bring back, and at this point in the offseason (basically the preseason, really), it's not like there were a lot of options out there for the Celtics to get deeper. Kenyon Martin, who Boston was reportedly interested in, did not want to take the veteran minimum, ruling him out. As far as bigs were concerned, Darko was probably at the top of the list in the available pool.
Here's the best part: the Celtics don't have to pay him stupid amounts of money. Milicic has made nearly $50 million in his NBA career. Sickening, isn't it? Last year, Darko brought home just under $5 million. Courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves decision to amnesty Milicic, he'll still get the money that was owed to him, and all the Celtics had to do was pay the bare minimum. Not a bad deal in my eyes.
Maybe (and that's a very strong maybe) he doesn't have anything he can offer the Celtics, but this is a low risk, high reward move for Ainge and company. Again, Danny might see something we don't, and maybe Milicic has some bursts of talent left. Maybe, and again, that's a big maybe. We'll have to wait and see.