We first heard of this Darko rumor during NBA Summer League back in July. It was reported that Boston had serious interest in the former second overall pick. Things cooled down over the past couple months on that front, with Milicic likely looking for a better deal after being amnestied by Minnesota.
With training camp approaching, as well as Kenyon Martin turning down an offer from the C’s for the minimum last week, Danny Ainge has turned again to the next viable big-man option on the market. Darko, seeing no other promising NBA offers of note out there (with a chance of real playing time) appears to have settled on Boston.
Hoopsworld had the initial report last night after picking up an overseas article lauding Boston as the favorites to land the former Timberwolves center. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com was able to confirm the report on the Celtics end:
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) September 20, 2012
Assuming this deal is a veteran’s minimum contract (the Celtics still have the bi-annual exception, but I would be shocked and perplexed if they used it on Milicic here) you can’t really be disappointed by this signing if you’re a C’s fan.
Like it or not, heading into today the Celtics’ reserve frontcourt consisted of a player coming off major heart surgery (Chris Wilcox), one undersized power forward with a high injury risk (Jared Sullinger), a rookie big man who might be able to help this team consistently for a couple years (Fab Melo) and a guy who can defend big centers and that’s about it (Jason Collins).
No matter how you slice it, that’s a group that could use some additional insurance. Jeff Green will likely see some time at the four-spot as well (although not too much I hope) but with Andrew Bynum, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, Andrea Bargnani, and Brook Lopez matching up with the C’s four times each this season from the Atlantic Division alone, shoring up the necessary reinforcements to keep the onus off Kevin Garnett’s minutes against that crew is pivotal.
Wilcox and Sullinger are the top candidates to get those backup minutes, but if either of them (or the starters) go down, relying on Collins and Melo for regular minutes would be a daunting proposition. That’s why the C’s needed another big, and especially another useful rebounder since Collins and Melo are extremely subpar on the defensive glass.
Will this end well? That remains to be seen. We’ll take a closer look at Darko’s skills tomorrow to see how he could help Boston despite being a chronic underachiever for the duration of his NBA career. He can rebound and is 7-feet tall so that is a start in itself. Assuming Darko’s deal is guaranteed, this puts the C’s training camp roster closer to 20 players overall and the roster crunch for that final 15th spot will be extremely tight.
As of now, unless Darko or one of the other bigs (Collins, Wilcox) get cut after camp, there is room for just one of the trio of Dionte Christmas, Kris Joseph or Jamar Smith on the roster, unless one beats out Keyon Dooling for a spot (possible but not probable.) With such little space available, competition during training camp just got kicked up an extra notch.
Much more to come on this later today….