Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Let the bashing begin...

Magic's Milicic a changed man
Former first-round pick gains muscle needed to become force in paint.


Gone is the gangly, bleached-blonde kid with an outside shot. In his place is a muscular, black-haired man with a surprising post game.

Darko Milicic looks different than the 18-year-old who was drafted second overall in 2003 - after LeBron James and before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Now 21, Milicic also plays differently - he posted up forward/center Dwight Howard during the Orlando Magic's practice Friday at UNF Arena - but he's still coming off the bench.

Magic coach Brian Hill said he plans on starting Tony Battie alongside Howard in the frontcourt and bringing the 7-foot Milicic, who added a much-needed 28 pounds during the offseason, off the bench.

"He'll earn whatever playing time he earns, but I don't see him [starting] right now," Hill said.

But at least Milicic is getting off the bench.

Milicic never averaged more than 6.9 minutes per game for the Detroit Pistons, playing only in blowouts and earning a less than flattering nickname: The Human Victory Cigar. But after being traded to Orlando late last season, Milicic's minutes per game jumped to 20.9.

"His skill level and feel for the game surprised me, and he knows how to play the game," Hill said. "He's an outstanding passer, he's got a soft touch on his jumper. He's just a very skilled player. He was better than I thought he would be [when he was traded]."

Milicic spent the summer with the Serbian national team, practicing, weight training and preparing to be a contributor for an entire season for the first time in his NBA career. He came into Magic camp at 278 pounds with a defined upper body and a willingness to mix it up in the paint.

During an eight-minute scrimmage at the end of Friday's practice, Milicic and Howard matched up against each other. Milicic showed off a small array of post moves, including a baby hook, and he held his position on the defensive end as Howard tried to back him down several times without success.

"I feel much better," Milicic said. "I have a different approach [because] I know I'm going to playing."

Fran Update: A non-Training Camp update, but one we can still classify as Magic news. Fran Vazquez, the Magic's first round Draft choice in 2005, helped lead Winterthur FC Barcelona to an 87-81 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Vazquez tied for the team-high with 15 points on 7-of- 11 shooting in 23 minutes of action.

Though he has decided to remain in Europe, the Magic hold the NBA rights to Vazquez indefinitely. Vazquez recently said he felt he wasn't ready for the NBA, but that he might look into coming to the U.S. to play in another year or two.

The 76ers loss to Barcelona marks the first time an NBA team has lost an exhibition game while playing overseas. Chris Webber led the Sixers with 18 points. Former Magic player Mario Kasun, who is playing for Barcelona this year, scored four points with seven boards in 13 minutes of action.


  • At 1:39 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    I have said it, time after time, what I think of the situation; it is fools' corner, and I am not gonna let it ruin a beautiful fall day for me. I will just calmly outline a few points:

    1 - Hill is a below average coach, whose track record after Shaq era is a testimonial to it.

    2 - He is attentive enough to details to train a disciplined defense.

    3 - His offensive capacity is limited to a few schemes, mainly throwing the ball to a big inside, who would try to score and if it doesn't work he would throw it back outside for a shooter to score. His success with the Magic during Shaq era was all due to having the best big and a whole bunch of excellent shooters.

    4 - His communication skills, especially with tempermental players, who challenge his authority is non-existent.

    5 - I expect at some point of time for Otis Smith to step in, and put some senses into Hill's empty head. That, in my view, would be a good test for Smith on whether or not he is up to the job.

    Enjoy the beautiful day!

  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Yeah, I didn't let it get me down. I expected it from Hill. I hoped the other way, but I knew better than that.

    Have a nice day!

  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Well, I was flat-out wrong in my prediction that Darko would be named starter before training camp is over. But knowing how stubborn Hill can be when it comes to certain things, I really shouldn't be too surprised.

    But like Whit Watson said, as long as Darko plays over 30 minutes a game, is in during crunch time (and the Magic win), it probably doesn't matter if he starts or not for now, even though I would prefer Darko to start.

    I'm not going to get too down over this decision either... enjoying myself here in Vegas.

    Have a great weekend!

  • At 8:55 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Mike, you are too nice of a guy to fall on any side of an issue except on the middle of the mill. Whit Watson is a writer that I find myself in agreement with, most often than not, but I am not buying into this idea of what matters is who plays how many minutes, and who finishes the game. In a typical situation, unless there are match-up problems or some other reasons which dictate otherwise, teams start and finish with their best five players. I recall that Big Figure has pointed out this common sense approach, way back on Sentinel's blog, and I totally agreed with it then as I do now.

    If Hill says I don't see Drako starting, he has an obligation to explain why? What is it that Tony does better than Darko? What Darko lacks that in Hill's view he is not a starter? Is there any reporter with balls to ask him why, or it is gonna be the same old conspiracy of silence when it comes to the coach or the ownership?

    I am not gonna go through the list of many reasons that I outlined for Darko's start, and rather want to focus on "accountability". This is a serious issue in any establishment, whereas managers have the responsibility to explain and justify their decisions and actions. To whom is Hill accountable? To his employers, for one, and that is where Otis Smith should come in. He is also accountable to the ultimate authority of all, being the public.

    Now, we can take this position of accepting Hill for who he is, and assume that nothing is gonna happen to him since he has the confidence of the ownership, or we can air our views anywhere that we can, and see where chips fall. It is either the bad public opinion or the bad results that can bring Hill down. Remember how popular of a figure Doc Rivers was, and yet when losses piled up he could not survive.


  • At 3:10 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    Well said Matt.

    As everyone here knows, I am NO fan of BSH. He may have fooled the casual Magic fans of the Shaq years, and is the darling of the Magic Public Relations Dept. But as Matt pointed out in his list, these are legitiment concerns that must be on, at least someones mind in the Magic organization.

    It has to be more than just bringing back a coach that rode to glory on the backs of Shaq, Penny, Nick, Dennis etc etc... Hopefully, like years ago, the talent of the team will make up for the shortcommings of this coach. I think the thing that bothers me most about BSH is pointed out in #4
    "His communication skills, especially with tempermental players, who challenge his authority is non-existent."
    This, to me anyway, seems to be his defining character. Not to mention his insistance on giving an undersized, slow, suspect shooting, with non existant skills PF named Garrity quality playing time. Now, how long before we see the same thing with Battie?

  • At 3:52 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    To add to your guy’s thoughts on Darko and B Hill I'm going to ask if any of you watched the live scrimmage tonight. There were a few players that stood out, even though MANY didn't play. But in reference to this topic of discussion, Dwight and Darko were BATTLING. There was a lot of banging. It almost looked as if they were fighting each other for a starting position. Both struggled to back each other down. It was weird, but when they were guarding each other it was basically a wash. Their strength seemed equal. Darko looked taller, and bigger. Dwight out leaped him, and was effective down low. But Darko showed a low post game, and the range. MY POINT, we know Dwight is going to start, but Darko was looking DAMN GOOD against Dwight. It's only a matter of time before even a blind guy wouldn't put Darko in the starting lineup. They need to get Darko a new contract immediately. Not many players can go head to head and bang with Dwight like he did. It's only a matter of time before he's starting, because he looked to good to ignore. As Matt asked, "what does Tony do better than Darko"? The answer is nothing, unless we're talking about speaking English.

  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    There is too much talent and depth on this team that the short term prospect is not in question. Unfortunately, for the same breadth of reasons, the deficiencies of the coach is not going to be exposed based on short-term results. My concern is for the long term. It is important to keep Darko happy and engaged. The kid is up to the latter as he speaks tough and positive, and seems to be prepared to jump through the hoops! literally to get what is rightfully his for taking. But how long before the kid gets frustrated, and totally alienated, and goes into this shell of indifference (that he showed in Detroit), and eventually takes the first good offer that comes his way with a one-way ticket out of Orlando? To be honest, we are talking about Dwight and Jameer as the future of the Magic but, in my view, for the long term Darko is even more important than Jameer. Jameer is currently ranked number 32 among PGs, and has a bright prospect for the future, but we don't know if he is going to gain super-star stature, or being irreplaceable, for that matter. Darko, on the other hand, has the potentials of being a super-star, especially if he plays alongside Dwight for years, where they complement each other in so many ways imaginable. Additionally, as we all know, good big men are irreplaceable commodities in NBA.

    So when Hill says that he doesn't see Darko starting with no ifs or buts attached, one may ask for the logic, and I am disgusted that nobody is asking the tough question. So is this Hill's decision to make without having to offer any qualification or justification? Where is Otis Smith, and when is he gonna step in on this matter?


  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Why do i feel like this season is already an extention of last year,we all pretty much said that as long as BSH stayed out of the way we would win games,but now he's deffinitely getting in the way with his dictatorship like antics,right or wrong i think the way BSH was fired before has caused the organization to let this guy be a little tyrant and is prepared to stand beside him this time around before they listen players (or even bloggers for that matter)loses will be the only thing that gets this guy questioned,and i'm sure none of us want any of those racking up to quickly,so we as fans are in a bad position,if we win he'll be praised by the media,if we lose alot,he can always make changes and put darko in with the starters and look like a savior,again the media will praise him,this all just sicken's me!

  • At 12:23 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    You're absolutely right. And you must wonder why such questions haven't been asked. At the same time, once the season starts, and the Magic go public so to speak, seeing all we've had has been training camp, it will be a lot harder for those questions not to be asked. Darko is looking to good right now. We saw him last year. I watched him all summer at the FIBA games. He lifted weights for the first time in his career and it shows. Even though it's sad that this coach can't pick up on the fact that this guy should be starting right now, it'll have to hit him eventually...right? Hah... All I'm saying is that Darko seems prepared to TAKE that spot from Tony. Whether I agree with Hill or not, let's hope that is the case, the kid stays interested, and this doesn't cause long term damage to the team.

    Interesting thoughts on the value of Darko and Jameer… I'd have to agree with you. I’d like to say Jameer has just as much value due to his leadership qualities, and for the fact that he has all-star potential just like Darko does. He also hasn't played a full season yet as the leader of the team. This will be a defining year for Jameer being that it'll be the first for him without Francis. At the same time, if we lost Jameer it would hurt less than Darko, because we have Arroyo, Dooling, and Travis who sit behind him. So I understand…

    I guess our only hope is Darko opens up our blind coach’s eyes.

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Good points, everybody. Let's keep optimistic and hope for the best, as most of you have wished for. In my life, I have witnessed arrogance and stupidity of stupendous magnitude, but nothing is more disgusting than having the two combined in one person.

  • At 3:24 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Oh I have too... I don't deal with people like that well. That's pretty much why I'm trying to remain optimistic. Otherwise I'd be bashing the hell out of Hill right now. I love the Magic too much to dwell on the negatives, when for the first time in a long time there are a ton of positives. I just hope they continue to outweigh the negatives, in turn, not destroying the team I love.

    I do not have faith in Brian Hill. But I have faith in these players, and Otis Smith has me believing in him. The organization is sitting in a better position than they ever have right now, with the players we have, Otis as GM, and the arena situation. I hope an average coach can’t ruin that, but stranger things have happened.

  • At 8:39 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Introvert316, I hope that your trust in Otis Smith is not misplaced. He should have a say in any issue that relates to present or future well-being of the team, and I believe we all agree that Darko's situation is an issue of such magnitude. So there are a couple of possible scenarios that I could think of:

    1 - He thinks the decisions on the complexion of the team on the floor rests with the coach, thus he stays out of it. It is hard for me to imagine that this would be the case.

    2 - He thinks that sharing the decision making on the complexion of the team on the floor with the coach is the proper path.

    Under scenario 2 come three sub-scenarios:
    a - He has overlooked the issue as something important.
    b - He agrees with Hill on this issue.
    c - He disagrees with Hill but feels this is not the proper time to intervene.

  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    Bash away on Hill all you want, but I'll point this out.

    Bill Fitch (who kinda looked like a taller version of Hill) won an NBA title by using future hall of famer Kevin McHale coming off the bench. Instead he started Cedric Maxwell. McHale was always on the floor at the end of games that mattered. Those of you old enough to remember McHale as a great player and not a dumbass GM know that he was a freakish player who was pretty much unstoppable. If Darko can attain that status the Magic will be great for years to come. Not sure if Battie could best Maxwell as Max had his moments, but it's not a bad comparison.

    Think back to the final month and a half. The Magic were playing teams even early in the game, then blowing them out when Carlos, Darko, Dooling & Ariza were coming off the bench and destroying the other guys subs. I'm not smart enough to understand which is better with Darko.

    I think Walt Whitman, I mean Whit Watson, said that it's not who starts but who finishes that matters. I'm certain that if Garrity is on the floor at crunch time and Darko is on the bench the fans will not buy tickets in droves.

  • At 5:11 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    It has been a basketball saying for years; "it’s not who starts that matters, it’s who finishes". Will that be the case here? I guess we're going to find out.

  • At 9:36 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Aberrations may not pass for the norms, and you are missing the boat in comparison. Hill is not saying that he has a plan. He says that he does not see Darko starting. The idea of the best five starting and finishing, except if the situation dictates otherwise, is clear. You want to establish and impose your game early on. Superior teams usually blow the opponents away as early as possible so that the game does not come down to a few lucky breaks, which is the case in any close game towards the end.

    On a footnote, 1) Bill Fitch was a hell of a tactician, 2) I don't recall the particularity of the case, may be (I am guessing) McHale was not that well conditioned at the time to start and finish the games. Regardless, I don't see how the comparison could stick.

  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Even though I do not agree with this decision by Hill that he's probably going to start Battie over Darko, I remain optimistic about the team because of how well they played the last month of last season with Darko coming off the bench. I like the Magic too much to let this decision by Hill get me down, and am hoping for the best.

    You guys bring up a good point when you say that Hill has to be held accountable and the media need to ask him the tough questions, such as why is he doing this, and what's the advantage of starting Battie over Darko?

    Like has been pointed out, a team usually starts its five best players. Thank goodness Darko seems to be the kind of kid who is still going to work as hard as possible, and not let this bring him down that he most likely won't be starting.

    Interesting item by WeRDevos about Kevin McHale in the 80's with the Celtics coming off the bench with Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell starting. McHale won several 6th man of the year awards as I recall, and was a big part of all those great Celtic teams that would challenge for the title every year in the 80's.

    To be honest, as good as McHale was, I think Darko is going to be a heck of a lot better, and he should be starting, not coming off the bench, and hopefully our coach will ultimately recognize that.

    In any case... GO MAGIC!!

  • At 12:17 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    Mike, I hope your right about Darko vs. McHale because topping him is a tall order. Here is a good summary of McHale's career from Wikipedia:

    McHale helped form what is considered one of the league's best-ever frontlines with small forward Larry Bird and center Robert Parish. The trio of Hall of Famers became known as "The Big Three" and would lead the Celtics to five NBA Finals appearances and three NBA Championships, in 1981, 1984 and 1986.

    Possessing a wide variety of offensive moves close to the basket, the agile, long-armed McHale played in seven National Basketball Association All-Star Games between 1984 and 1991 and lead the NBA in field goal percentage in 1987 and 1988, shooting 60.4 percent each season. Also a standout defensive player, McHale was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times and twice blocked nine shots in a game, the most ever by a Boston Celtics' player (blocked shots did not become an official NBA statistic until the 1974 season). McHale is also noted as one of very few players in the NBA who managed to shoot 60% from the field and 80% from the free throw line in the same season.

    For the first five years of his career McHale primarily came off the bench for the Celtics, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1984 and 1985.

    He was great coming out of college, but Fitch liked Maxwell too much to not start him, even though McHale was finishing games in his rookie year.

    He was named All-Big Ten in 1979 and 1980 and still ranks second in school history in career points (1704) and rebounds (950).

    In 1995, to coincide with the University of Minnesota's 100th anniversary, he was selected as top player in the history of University of Minnesota men's basketball.


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