Jan 25, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Darko Milicic (31) drives the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood (33) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Mavericks 105-90. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Heat Have Become Frontrunners for Darko Milicic


As much as we believe this Miami Heat team to be vulnerable without a pure center, they haven’t done too bad a job at disguising one of their largest weaknesses.

Since banding LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to play together, the Heat have been without a center who can keep the position based on consistently solid play. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire are just a few of the names that have been given the opportunity to start at center, only to find their way back to the bench following a poor performances.

The Heat may now be ready to accept the services of a center who isn’t even ten years past his prime. Word is that former number two pick Darko Milicic is drawing interest from Miami following a buyout from the Minnesota Timberwolves that rewarded him $5.2 million. Because of the money he received from being an amnesty clause casualty, the funds he receives from his future team will provide little to no factor, since it would only be money on top of money he already received.

That bodes well for the Heat, who only have veteran’s minimum deal worth $1.4 million to give away. The Heat took advantage of another player in a situation similar to Darko earlier this month when they signed Rashard Lewis. Although Lewis accepted the Heat’s veteran’s minimum, he was already $13 million richer due to a buyout he received upon being traded to the New Orleans Hornets.

With money basically playing no part in these matters, Milicic could very well end up as the newest member of the Miami Heat. Darko and his agent want to play for a contender and there currently is no bigger championship contender than the team who just won it, and then added on several key pieces to strengthen their bench.

If Darko were to join, the Heat would possess the number one, two, four and five picks from the 2003 draft.

Milicic has been living with the label of one of the NBA’s biggest draft busts. On top of his underachieving play, Milicic was also taken ahead of the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. While every other top five pick in that year’s draft has thrived, Darko has bounced from team to team and has never averaged more than nine points or six boards per. He hasn’t stayed on a single team for longer than three years.

The Heat aren’t looking for the next best thing in terms of searching for a capable big man. Milicic is a true 7′ footer that weighs in at 250-pounds; that’s better than anything else the Heat have at center. Although Chris Bosh showed that he is capable of playing consistent minutes at the five, it would still be of great use for the Heat to possess a true big man who can intimidate players with their presence and grab rebounds.

As I said, the Heat aren’t asking for much.

Miami has fought well against the bigger teams, such as Indiana and Chicago, but could still use a big man to take a few fouls, send a message and contribute around the rim from time-to-time. That’s essentially been Darko’s career, as he has failed to play consistent minutes or take on a consistent starting job. He could earn starting time in Miami as an experiment, but he’ll have to avoid the ‘stiff’ label former centers like Ilgauskas and Dampier earned in their time with the Heat.

Darko is coming off a disappointing 2011-’12 campaign where he played in only 29 games, averaging 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per. His 2010-’11 season, by comparison, was far better statistically speaking as he posted up a career-high 8.8 points, 5.2 boards and 2 blocks per game.

 

 

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