Wednesday, July 11, 2007


An article the other day reported that the Sixers were chatting with Darko Milicic about the possibility of signing him to a free agent contract. I'm all in favor of pursuing Darko--he's still young, he's shown some promising flashes--but I'd be very hesitant to give him anywhere near the size contract that he's reportedly seeking ($10 million/year).

Pursuing Milicic puts me in mind of the old children's game "Marco Polo." It's the game where one person is "it," they shut their eyes, call out "Marco," and all the other players yell out "Polo." The player who is "it" then tries to chase them down by following the voices. (I always played this game in the water, but I assume you could also play it on land.) The point is, you were always groping ahead pretty blindly. Sure, you had some idea of what you might find based on the shouts of "polo," but there was no guarantee that anyone would still be there when you arrived.

With Milicic, the flashes of talent he's shown in the past (his shouts of "polo") give you a hint of what you might be getting, but there's also no guarantee that those flashes of talent will actually come out once you sign him. He's been in the league four years already, so the next year or two will probably tell the story on whether or not he'll ever move beyond being a tantalizing prospect. If I was the Sixers, I'd try and sign him for close to the mid-level exception ($5.4 million). If there's no way to get him for that amount, then it might be worthwhile paying closer to the $10 M he's asking for, but only for a one or two year contract with team options for extra years. That way the Sixers have him if he pans out, and they aren't bogged down with a bad contract if he doesn't.

Free agents can start signing with teams today. If Milicic signs right away, then it means he found someone to take his (too high) asking price. The longer he goes without being signed, the better the Sixers' chances are to get him at a more reasonable price. Let's hope!

[Update: First, I've changed the time stamp on this post to reflect when I actually posted it, not when I first started a draft (it now shows a Wednesday time stamp rather than Tuesday). Second, according to reports in Thursday's papers, Milicic has agreed to a 3-year, $21 million contract with the Grizzlies--pretty close to the sort of contract I was arguing for in the original post. Can I be an NBA GM now?]

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