Why yes, Minnesota Timberwolves, Darko Milicic will gladly take your $20 million, please and thank you


David Kahn is the most dangerous GM in the world. Not in the Sam Presti or Daryl Morey way, either; you don’t need to worry about his diabolical scheming or adaptable strategy, but rather how much irreparable damage he’s capable of doing to his team in a short time.

Well, add another bad move to Kahn’s Wikipedia page, even if it is merely bad (as opposed to completely ludicrous) and could actually have been far worse: the Timberwolves will sign Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million contract.

I’m glad that Kahn and Kurt Rambis understand that pairing Al Jefferson and Kevin Love together is a plan doomed to fail, but signing Darko to a long-term deal isn’t likely to make the situation any better. The Wolves have now betrayed themselves at the negotiating table; with Love as Kahn’s chosen son, Darko locked into a long-term deal, and the newly-signed power forward/center Nikola Pekovic on the way, it’s more evident than ever that the Wolves need to move Al Jefferson. He’s no longer a luxury, but an absolute redundancy, and that could seriously undercut Kahn’s attempts to trade him this summer.

If we view the Darko signing in a vacuum though, it’s really not awful. It’s just too long. And probably too expensive. If Kahn wanted to keep Milicic around while the team looks for more suitable centers, that’s fine. Sign him to a two-year deal starting around $4 million or so (which is still generous). If the Wolves don’t regret this signing immediately, they surely will four years down the line when they’re still paying Darko decent money for indecent production.

The good news is that the last year of Milicic’s contract is partially unguaranteed, so there’s always the possibility that the Wolves could be paying him slightly less in his final year to do absolutely nothing. Yay.

Far worse however, is the fact that signing him essentially forfeits the Wolves’ place in free agency, and removes the possibility of signing rumored target Rudy Gay. The pursuit of Gay may have been a mistake to begin with, but if given the choice between Minnesota spending too much money on an athletic wing with room for growth or a depressing center whose claim to fame is not being absolutely horrible, I think you take the former. Maybe that’s just me.

Either way, the Wolves will only have around $5 million in cap room to play with, no salary cap exceptions to speak of, and little hope for additional change outside of a potential Al Jefferson trade (which may be hindered by this very move). This signing in itself may not be a franchise-killer, but in conjunction with all of Kahn’s move in total, I think it’s time we Kahn-proof his office. Take his computer and phone, stash away all sharp objects, and lock him in. Believe it or not, it could actually get worse before the summer’s end.

Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on not guilty verdict: “Justice was served”

Thabo Sefolosha
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Friday morning, a New York jury found Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha not guilty of misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. The charges stemmed from the night in the final weeks of last season when Sefolosha and then teammate Pero Antic went to a New York club after arriving in town, and while there Pacers’ player Chris Copeland was stabbed outside the club. In his clash with police, Sefolosha suffered a broken leg that required surgery and kept him out of the playoffs.

The New York prosecutor tried to make this go away with a plea deal of just day of community service and six months probation. But Sefolosha had the means and mind to fight the charges, got his day in court and won. This is what he said in a statement after the verdict, released by the Atlanta Hawks.

“This morning’s verdict ended a long and emotional period for me.  Justice was served and for that I am eternally grateful to the judge and jury for their quick and deliberate decision….

“It’s troubling to me that with so much evidence in my support that this case would even be brought to trial and that I had to defend myself so hard to get justice. It pains me to think about all of the innocent people who aren’t fortunate enough to have the resources, visibility and access to quality legal counsel that I have had.

“It was important to me as a man, a father to two young girls and as a role model, to stand up for what I believe in and have my name cleared of any wrongdoing.  Today’s verdict will not make up for the pain and trauma my family and I have suffered over the past six months or bring back the opportunity to have played in the Eastern Conference Finals and have a shot at an NBA title, but it does bring me some peace and closes a painful chapter in my life.

“Now I look forward to returning to the team and focusing solely on my rehabilitation for the upcoming season so that I can get back to playing the game I cherish so much.”

While Sefolosha says he is focusing “solely” on his rehab, the win in the criminal case would bode well for a potential civil case if he wanted to sue regarding his treatment and the broken leg.

Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer — who testified at the trial and was amused by parts of it — released this statement:

“Thabo is a man of great character and we are proud that he took a principled approach to proving his innocence. We are extremely happy for him and his family, and we are very pleased with today’s verdict in his favor.”

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.