Grizzlies sign Darko Milicic
Memphis Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today the team has signed free agent forward/center Darko Milicic (MILL-a-chich) to a contract. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal are not disclosed.
Milicic, a four-year NBA veteran, joins the Grizzlies after playing for the Orlando Magic for the past season and a half where he averaged 7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.84 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game in 110 total games (17 starts). Last season with the Magic (2006-07), he averaged career bests in almost every statistical category including points (8.0), rebounds (5.5), assists (1.1) and blocks (1.75) in 23.9 minutes per game. In Orlando's first round playoff series against Detroit, Milicic averaged 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 28.8 minutes per game (four games).
"We are pleased that Darko Milicic has become a Grizzly," said Wallace. "Darko is just 22 years old but already has been in the NBA for four seasons. He has been blessed with tremendous basketball skills, excellent size and impressive athletic ability. In Detroit he was exposed to a championship organization, and in Orlando he practiced alongside a great big man in Dwight Howard and received significant playing time as well as playoff experience. In Memphis, he will play for Marc Iavaroni who is recognized as one of the premier teachers of big men in the game. Darko is poised to take a major step in his career and Memphis is the perfect place for him to blossom."
The 7-0, 250-pound forward/center was originally drafted by the Detroit Pistons second overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. He spent two and a half seasons with Detroit, appearing in 103 games with averages of 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds. Milicic was part of the Pistons' 2003-04 NBA Championship team and became the youngest player to appear in an NBA Finals game (18 years, 356 days). He was traded to the Magic along with Carlos Arroyo from Detroit in exchange for Kelvin Cato and a future protected first round pick on February 15, 2006.
In his four NBA seasons with the Pistons and Magic, Milicic holds career averages of 5.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.21 blocks in 15.0 minutes per game (206 games). He has also seen action in a total of 21 playoff games, averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game.
Milicic, a native of Serbia-Montenegro, began his professional career in with Hemofarm Vrsac, where he was elevated to the top club team in 2001-02 just before his 16th birthday. He was a member of the Serbia & Montenegro National team that competed in the European Championships in September of 2005 and a member of the Yugoslavian team that won the European Cadet Championships in 2001. He was also a member of the Under-20 Championships in 2002.