Ever since he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons n 2003, Darko Milicic has had one of the most disappointing careers in the NBA. In Detroit, head coach Larry Brown never gave him significant minutes, and as a result his development suffered. Flip Saunders didn’t help matters as he didn’t play him much as well.
Then he was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2006, and he showed some chemistry with Dwight Howard, but the Magic chose to go in a different direction and then he was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007. The Memphis team was a mess, and he was once again barely used by the team. He showed flashes here and there, but not enough to really break out as he was once again traded to the New York Knicks. The Knicks was even more of a mess and it was in this time that he contemplated going back to Europe.
But the Minnesota Timberwolves was able to sign him to a long term contract and that’s when things began looking up for the big Serbian.
Aside from his brief stint with the Magic, it was clear that Minnesota was the only other team where he felt like he belonged. His time under Kurt Rambis was one of the most successful in his career. He showed some flashes of brilliance and he showed some of the skills that made him a number 2 pick in the much talked-about 2003 Draft class. He showed some of his natural ability as he was quick, agile and strong. He had great defensive instincts and had games where he was absolutely dominant.
But once again, his indifference and his lack of confidence ultimately did him in. He came into the 2011-12 season out-of-shape and lacking any semblance of caring. He was then put in the Rick Adelman doghouse and he wasn’t given any playing time as a result.
After being waived in the offseason, he now enters his 10th year in the NBA and his sixth team overall. He will now go to a team with a defined role and a good coach to back him up. He is also in a rare opportunity of playing for a championship calibre team. The last time he was in such a position was when he was first entering the league 10 years ago. But the circumstances are different and the Boston Celtics should find a clear role for him entering the new season.
He also has a player of Kevin Garnett’s stature to bark in his ears if/when he slacks off. Will this be the year Darko can become more than just a punch line? Will this be the year he finally becomes a valuable contributor on a good team? Will this be the year he belongs? Boston is an organization known for making its players accountable. For Darko’s sake, let’s hope he finally grows up. This could be his one last shot.