February 16th - ~ Detroit News ~ Pistons make Milicic disappear Magic get former No. 1 pick, Arroyo for Cato, No. 1 in 2007; Dumars now seeks point guard By Chris McCosky In trading center Darko Milicic and guard Carlos Arroyo to Orlando on Wednesday for center Kelvin Cato and a protected 2007 first-round draft pick, the Pistons took steps toward ensuring that Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups remain Pistons for the foreseeable future. And they did so without jeopardizing their chances to win a third straight Eastern Conference title. Arroyo was averaging 12 minutes and Milicic was out of the rotation. "We have put ourselves in a position to re-sign both Ben (this summer) and Chauncey (in the summer of 2007), and we are getting a pretty good draft pick to fill in with another young guy in the next year or two," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "I am very satisfied with how this turned out." ~ Detroit Free Press ~ MITCH ALBOM: With clock ticking, Darko had to go He was the firecracker that we watched as kids, standing in a circle, hands in our ears. It fizzled. It went poof. "Is that it?" we asked. Darko Milicic never exploded. You knew it. I knew it. Anyone who watched him play over the years knew it. He looked tentative. He looked lost. With that long, nimble frame, you kept wanting him to turn into something great, someone worthy of being one pick behind LeBron James, so much so that any little move he made -- one dunk, one block -- was greeted with "Aha! There's the potential!" And there goes the potential -- after fewer than 100 regular-season games and a career average of less than two points a night. It was only three years ago that Joe Dumars and Rick Carlisle sat by a TV in a New Jersey arena and hollered with joy when Detroit got the No. 2 pick in the draft lottery. The two men walked down the tunnel high-fiving each other. DARKO DUMPED: Milicic, Arroyo traded to Orlando By Krista Latham For 2 1/2 seasons, the Pistons touted Darko Milicic as a long-term project. But Wednesday night, that unproductive and highly scrutinized project was abandoned. After a day of on-again, off-again negotiations, Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars finalized a trade sending Milicic and backup point guard Carlos Arroyo to the Orlando Magic for injured center Kelvin Cato and a top-five protected pick in 2007. The pick has no protection beyond that. Cato's $8.6-million contract comes off the books this summer. Hamilton wants shot in 3-point challenge By George Simple Sure, Chauncey Billups is deserving of a spot in the NBA three-point shooting contest. But Billups says teammate and fellow All-Star Richard Hamilton is just as qualified to take a turn shooting from the rack this weekend. "I'd love to see that," said Billups, whose .431 three-point shooting percentage is tied for sixth among NBA leaders. "I wish he was." Hamilton, who leads all qualified NBA players with a .456 percentage on treys, wishes he had the chance, too. "I'm kind of disappointed I wasn't invited to the three-point contest," Hamilton said. "It's a goal of mine." Hamilton said his success this season could be attributed in part to the flow of coach Flip Saunders' offense. "Last year, L.B. didn't want me to shoot them at all," Hamilton said, referring to coach Larry Brown. "The offense gives me a lot of wide-open looks." ~ Booth Newspapers ~ Done deal: Milicic will get a chance to play in Orlando By A. Sherrod Blakely The last image Detroit Piston fans will have of Darko Milicic as a Piston will be the four scoreless minutes he played on Sunday against New Jersey. It's only fitting considering the player who seemed to have such promise when drafted three years ago, never produced at a high enough level to please anybody. That was among the reasons the Pistons traded Milicic, the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, and point guard Carlos Arroyo to the Orlando Magic for Kelvin Cato and a 2007 or 2008 first-round draft pick. The Pistons will get Orlando's 2007 selection if it's not among the top five, or they'll get the Magic's 2008 pick, which is unprotected. Saunders strives to keep Pistons on course By A. Sherrod Blakely Unprecedented success is what distinguishes this Detroit Pistons team heading into this weekend's All-Star Game break from others. They have the NBA's best record (42-9), winning more games than any team in franchise history after 51 games. Head coach Flip Saunders was the Eastern Conference's coach of the month in November, December and January, an accomplishment no coach in NBA history can lay claim to. The Pistons have four players on the Eastern Conference all-star team, yet another franchise first. With all the Pistons have done so far, this team remains unsatisfied. ~ The Oakland Press ~ See ya, Darko Pistons deal unfulfilled draft pick to Orlando By Dana Gauruder Darko Milicic is now Orlando's enigma. The Pistons officially waved the white flag on their disappointing third-year center Wednesday, shipping Milicic and backup point guard Carlos Arroyo to the Magic for center Kelvin Cato and a 2007 first-round draft pick. Orlando will keep the pick if it has one of the top five selections after next season. From that point, the Magic would have no protection on the pick. The trade ends a crashingly disappointing chapter in Pistons history. Milicic was the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft with expectations of becoming a franchise player. Milicic was drafted one slot behind LeBron James and ahead of such luminaries as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. But Milicic barely left the bench during his 2 1 /2 seasons in a Detroit uniform. ~ Orlando Sentinel ~ Magic gain Milicic, Arroyo from Pistons By Tim Povtak In search of something -- anything -- to shake up a roster gone bad, the Orlando Magic acquired much-maligned forward Darko Milicic and backup point guard Carlos Arroyo from the Detroit Pistons Wednesday. The Magic gave up little-used and often-injured center Kelvin Cato and a future first-round draft pick. Although the Pistons are expected to waive Cato -- getting him only for his expiring contract -- the Magic have plans for Milicic, who has been a bust since the Pistons used the No. 2 pick of the 2003 draft to select him. "He's a young big guy with a lot of potential,'' said Otis Smith, Magic assistant general manager. "If you're going to take a run at a player, you want to make that run at a 7-foot player.'' ~ Florida Today ~ Magic trade for Milicic, Arroyo BY JOHN DENTON The Orlando Magic took a gamble Wednesday on unproven Darko Milicic, trading Kelvin Cato and a conditional 2007 first-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for the power forward and guard Carlos Arroyo. While most of the buzz about the trade centers around Milicic, the second overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, it's the addition of Arroyo that raises red flags about Steve Francis' future with the Magic. Orlando, which now has five point guards, has talked to New York, Denver and Minnesota about a potential blockbuster involving Francis. Magic assistant general manager Otis Smith admitted talks of a multi-team trade are on the table, but he continued to say a deal involving Francis is still a long shot.