King confirms Sixers chatting with free-agent Milicic

Posted: July 10, 2007

Could a 22-year-old, 7-foot center/forward with four seasons of experience, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, help the 76ers?

Billy King, the Sixers' president/general manager, must think so. With tomorrow the first day teams can sign free agents, King confirmed via the team's public-relations department that he has spoken with Darko Milicic, an unrestricted free agent who appeared in 80 games last season with the Orlando Magic, and Milicic's agent, Marc Cornstein.

The significance of direct conversation with Milicic remains unclear. Also unclear is whether King offered a contract. Teams have been permitted to speak with agents and players since July 1.

The Sixers have no salary-cap space, but do have their average salary exception, roughly $5.6 million, available. They also could try to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Magic, who withdrew a qualifying offer to Milicic to agree to terms with Seattle SuperSonics unrestricted free agent Rashard Lewis. To this point, the Magic has been unable to finalize a sign-and-trade deal with the Sonics.

Neither King nor Cornstein, who also represents Sixers center Samuel Dalembert, was available for comment.

King also confirmed he has spoken with Dan Fegan, agent for Sixers unrestricted free-agent forward Joe Smith. King and senior vice president of basketball operations/assistant general manager Tony DiLeo confirmed that Smith has been their No. 1 free agent priority.

Various media reports have had the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets interested in Milicic, and the Chicago Bulls and Rockets interested in Smith. The Chicago Tribune reported that Smith has visited the Bulls; Fegan rarely returns call from reporters.

Milicic, from Serbia and Montenegro, was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and eventually traded to the Magic on Feb. 15, 2006. He averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, making 16 starts. He was listed on the Magic payroll at $5,218,622, with Cornstein supposedly aiming for a new deal averaging about $9 million to $10 million.

The 6-10 Smith, who will turn 32 July 26, has spent 12 seasons in the league. He arrived for his second stint as a Sixer as part of the December trade that sent Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets. Included in he deal largely because of his expiring $6,807,000 contract, he quickly became a valuable big man off the bench and a voice of reason in the locker room.

Despite a few media reports, the Sixers do not seem to be interested in Mikki Moore, the 7-foot New Jersey Nets unrestricted free-agent forward/center. Moore, 31, was listed at $1,071,225; he averaged career highs of 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 79 games. *

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