Considering that the Magic have yet to contact Darko Milicic, it's not a slam-dunk guarantee that he will return to Orlando next season.
Photo by Joe Kaleita, Orlando Sentinel
This news should shock Magic Nation. Consider this chat, which deals primarily with Darko's status, conducted with Orlando GM Otis Smith just a few days after the Magic's season ended:
On if signing Milicic is first on the timeline for the summer…The writing is on the wall... or internet, as it were: Darko was the Magic's top priority, at least in late April. Perhaps the increased presence of other teams in the Rashard Lewis Sweepstakes has forced Otis to change his plan. If nothing else, someone from the Magic organization should have been on the phone with Cornstein at 12:01 this morning, even if it was just to say "We are very interested in Darko and look forward to discussing a contract with you soon." That's it. A simple phone call. It's good business.
“Yeah, I think you have to. Darko’s important to us so we’d like to get Darko done as soon as we possibly can, before we can move on anyplace else. Having Darko, as a part of our franchise, playing alongside Dwight [Howard] is big for us. I don’t think we can afford to lose a young big guy. Now, with that said, we still have to go through the process of getting the contract done and we necessarily can’t do that until July 1. But, we want him on our team. But that has to be the first thing, the first piece coming in. As you well know, there’s a cap hold there that kind of prevents you from doing anything else. Unless you renounce. And if you renounce you can’t sign him for another 60 days, so that’s a little sticky too.”
On Milicic being the first priority…
“That’s the first thing you have to concern yourself with. I know it, Cornstein knows it – which may slow it down by the way. But that’s the first thing to take care of.”
On if he’ll make an offer on July 1 or see what the market is…
“I think you can make him an offer right there and let it be done and out of the way or you can sit and let the market dictate. But you may lose a little bit of leverage in that you’re trying to move it fast, you may. But I’m not telling you anything that Marc doesn’t know, we’re not trading industry secrets.”
The last news that connected Darko and the Magic, at least as far as I know, was this item posted Friday on the team's website. All it says is that the Magic tendered offers to Darko, Travis Diener, and Mario Kasun, which makes those players restricted free agents. Perhaps the Magic figured that tendering the offer was enough to show their interest in Darko. But that process is just a formality and isn't considered a sincere gesture.
This incident isn't the first time the Magic have slighted Darko: last summer, the Magic offered him a contract extension, only to take it off the table at the last minute. Could this latest show of disrespect turn Darko and Cornstein off to Orlando? It very well might, and that's bad news for the Magic.