Miami Heat, Darko Milicic: Heat look at former NBA Draft lottery pick in NBA free agency

Depending on the post-amnesty decision of Minnesota Timberwolves free-agent center Darko Milicic, it's a possibility.

An amnesty release by the Timberwolves, Milicic is sorting out overtures from the Heat and other teams, his agent said Wednesday.

"We have had some conversation," agent Marc Cornstein told the Sun Sentinel. "We've certainly talked about it."

Yahoo Sports has listed the Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets as front-runners for the journeyman center, but Cornstein said discussions have not gone beyond "fact-finding mode."

Milicic was selected No. 2 in the 2003 NBA Draft, after LeBron James was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carmelo Anthony then went No. 3 to the Denver Nuggets, Chris Bosh No. 4 to the Toronto Raptors and Dwyane Wade No. 5 to the Heat. James and Bosh since joined Wade in 2010 free agency, teaming to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in last month's NBA Finals.

Like James, Bosh and Wade, Milicic also has been part of an NBA championship, as a seldom used rookie reserve with the Pistons in 2004.

Still, Cornstein said the Heat's championship couldn't help but factor into the deliberations of the native of Montenegro, who has not appeared in a playoff game since 2007 with the Orlando Magic.

"Absolutely," Cornstein said. "I think any time you have an opportunity or get pursued by a team that's won an NBA title, that's intriguing."

He then cautioned, "In fairness, we've just had really preliminary conversations."

The Heat have only the $1.3 million veteran minimum to offer, but, like Rashard Lewis who signed with the Heat last week after a $14 million buyout from New Orleans Hornets, Milicic would arrive with his $5.2 million 2012-13 salary already guaranteed by the Timberwolves.

"The one thing I would say, when I talked to Darko about this a number of times, and he agrees, I guess the beauty of amnesty is he's already receiving his whole contract by clearing waivers," Cornstein said, with Milicic also holding a 2013-14 guarantee from the Timberwolves. "Money is always a factor, but in this case it really becomes a much smaller factor because, quite frankly, anything he receives is gravy on top of his existing contract."

A player who long has intrigued more because of potential than productivity, Milicic turned 27 in June, despite being on the verge of his 10th NBA season. Listed at 7 feet, Milicic has played for the Pistons, Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks and Timberwolves.

"He's at a real pivotal point of his career, and this is a very big decision for him, and I think he's taking it as much," Cornstein said, "and I certainly don't think money will be the deciding factor."

While the Heat already have 13 players under guaranteed contract for 2012-13, and while Heat President Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra have downplayed the need for a true center after winning the 2012 championship by playing hybrid lineups that featured Bosh at center, the only centers currently under contract to the Heat are Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman. The Heat selected Louisiana State center Justin Hamilton in the second round of last month's draft, but he likely will start his pro career overseas.

"I've basically, since he got amnestied, for the last few days been in kind of fact-finding mode and just trying to get all the information I can on all the teams that are interested," Cornstein said. "So I'd say we're at the tail end of that process and just getting back to Darko with all the information, so he can make an informed decision."


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