Twin Cities Business reports that the reason Darko was amnestied was because their coach, Rick Adelman wanted him gone. According to the report, with Adelman at the helm, they have gone from building slowly under Kurt Rambis to trying to build more quickly with Adelman.
But most of the Wolves-related headlines concerned Kahn’s persistent attempts to upgrade the talent on the roster. Behind the scenes, as promised, Adelman was providing input and helping with the decisions.
“Most of the moves David is making are heavily influenced by what Rick has asked of us. But when it comes to finances, David will tell Rick no,” Taylor reveals. “At the end of the year, Rick gives me a report of what he thinks of each player. He tells me it’s the same one he gave David and that David knows he is giving it to me. Then he goes through the list. He says, ‘This is the first one I want gone’—that was [underachieving veteran center] Darko [Milicic]. ‘This is the second one I want gone. This is what I think of this player.’
“We were going to build slowly with a young coach [Rambis] and young players. It was a good plan, but there was a misstep. Now we have a seasoned coach who has said ‘This is my last job.’ He is going to push faster because he wants to win sooner. But his [style of communication] is one I understand and can relate to.”
In this process, they have essentially swapped back up centers with the Celtics. They amnestied Darko, who the Celtics just signed to a vet minimum contract and then they signed former Celtics center Greg Stiemsma. The Celtics made a qualifying offer to Stiemsma but were outbid for his services by the Wolves.
Both are young. Stiemsma is 26 and Darko is 27. But there are more contrasts between these two than similarities. Stiemsma went undrafted after spending 4 years at Wisconsin, and worked his way to the NBA by playing in the D-League and in Europe. Darko entered the draft after playing briefly in Europe and was taken 2nd by the Pistons. Stiemsma is entering just his second season in the league and is considered a great prospect with a lot of potential. Darko is entering his 10th season and has been considered a bust through his NBA career so far.
After watching a ton of Darko video (Thanks Lex) and reading a lot about him, I think his biggest problem was being the #2 pick in the draft. Had he gone the long way around to the NBA and worked his way here and then got his chance as Stiemsma did, he might be considered a hot prospect. But having bounced around the league with high expectations because of his high draft position, they expected too much too soon and he never developed any confidence in his game.
He has a chance for a fresh start with the Celtics. If any coach can reach him, it would be Doc Rivers. And if any teammate can inspire him, it would be Kevin Garnett. Stiemsma came into Boston as an unknown and left as a $3 million a year center after just one year. The Celtics could be just what Darko needs. It will be very interesting to watch these two centers who swapped teams this year. Which team got the best of the deal?
Darko is definitely the new steamship. I would say that one problem was a change in coaches. The Wolves signed Darko when Rambis was head coach, and Rambis, coming from the Ls, is a more traditional coach when it comes to needing a big guy in the middle.
I drink so much Celtics Koolaid that I was expecting a championship the season before KG got here. Then the 18 game losing streak thing got in the way. But I still thought the future was bright with all those young guys :)