If Darko Milicic were taken, say, 25th in the 2003 NBA Draft, you would think the Celtics made a good signing bringing him in this summer — a serviceable big man to bring in off the bench, a guy who for 12 minutes a night will not suck and give guys like Kevin Garnett some rest.
But that is not Darko’s legacy. He is the former No. 2 overall pick, taken in front of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. He is “manna from heaven.” His name will always be associated first with unattained expectations and draft busts.
So what does Doc Rivers expect from Darko in Boston this year? He doesn’t know either, he told the Boston Herald.
“I don’t know (what to expect),” he said. “I like a lot that he has size. What we want Darko to do is fit a role for us, and not push all of these expectations on him that he’s had all of his career. His first concern should be our team, instead of trying to establish himself. It’s the second pick in the draft thing. I think that hurt him over his career. We’ll find out. I’ll tell you if that’s true in January. I hope it’s true.”
Celtics fans get really defensive if you call their team old, but the fact is Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are cornerstones that have a lot of mileage on their legs. Rivers knows that they need to get those guys rest to get through an 82 game grind and be ready to role in the playoffs like they did last season. So this summer GM Danny Ainge went out and got some real depth.
Darko is part of that. He’s not going to start, he’s not going to average 15 and 10. But if for 12 minutes a night he can be rock solid, play smart and within himself, defend and grab some boards, then he will have real value to the Celtics. The key for Darko is to do it every night — his NBA career has been filled with nights he has been good and nights he has been terrible, but little consistency. Boston needs consistency or they will turn to other bigs to get it.
Nobody really knows what to expect. But we will see pretty quickly in Boston if this was a smart move to bring him in.