Darko Milicic and his 7 foot-tall, 275-pound frame signed a one-year contract with the Boston Celtics for the league minimum on September 20, 2012. Thus, the Darko Era began in Boston. The Celtics, in need of a wide-body with some experience and more upside than the barely-playable Jason Collins, the injury-prone Chris Wilcox, or the premature Fab Melo have added the 27 year-old Serbian.
Darko’s American travels have been well documented. The unrealistic expectations that accompanied being drafted number two overall as an 18 year-old in 2003 shadowed Darko’s early experience in the NBA. Drafted by Joe Dumars and the then-powerful Detroit Pistons, Darko sat on the bench for three years before mercifully being traded to Orlando in February, 2006. The Pistons’ decision to chain Darko to the bench for two and a half seasons prompted the ironic Bethlehem Shoals to title his blog “Freedarko.” In essence, this trade to Orlando began Darko’s NBA career.
Over the course of four out of five seasons in which Darko averaged roughly 20 minutes and between 1.4 and 2.1 blocks per game, Darko had clearly established himself as a serviceable, defensive-minded NBA big man. David Kahn, the Timberwolves oft-maligned GM, signed Darko to a four-year, 20 million dollar deal in July, 2010. Darko averaged 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks with Minnesota under the tutelage of first-year coach Kurt Rambis in the 2010-2011 season. Rick Adelman’s offensive-focused style and the addition of lottery pick Derrick Williams significantly cut into Darko’s minutes. There were rumors he came into the strike-shortened season out of shape. The Wolves amnestied Darko after the 2012 season. Willing to eat $10 million in Darko salary in order to get him off the books. Nine years after he was drafted, Darko has joined the Celtics.
Danny Ainge believes that the chemistry and camaraderie of Doc Rivers’ team, together with the motivation of Garnett and the leadership of Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo will enable Darko to finally flourish. If he does, the Celtics’ formidable defense just got even more formidable. Welcome, Darko.
This index will be a place where Celtics fans gauge your progress, salute your efforts and watch as you fill the shoes of our old paint-patroller and steamroller, Kendrick Perkins, and attempt to lead the Green to another run at a championship in 2012-2013.
Into the Darko we go…..