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Report: Milicic planning to leave Celtics?

Darko Milicic Darko Milicic has played sparingly for the Celtics this season. (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Reserve center Darko Milicic is deciding whether he should leave the Celtics to attend to his mother in Europe, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports.

Darko Milicic is leaning strongly toward leaving the Boston Celtics for the season and returning to Europe to be with his ill mother, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Milicic, the No. 2 overall pick in the famed 2003 NBA Draft, didn't travel with the Celtics to Detroit this weekend, and sources say that he's close to deciding to leave the NBA for the season to be with his ill mother in Serbia. After failing to play since opening night, Milicic has also been frustrated with his lack of a role with the Celtics, sources said.

Milicic, 27, signed a one-year, minimum contract with the Celtics in September after the Timberwolves released him using the amnesty clause in July.

Before signing with the Timberwolves, reports indicated that Milicic might abandon his NBA career, which has included stops with the Pistons, Magic, Grizzlies and Knicks, and return to Europe. He holds career averages of 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Early in training camp, Celtics coach Doc Rivers told the Boston Globe that Milicic, regarded as one of the NBA's biggest draft busts, seemed to dwell on his past failures.

"Our thing right now with Darko is to play forward. From being around for a short time, as a coach I can probably feel he's played his career backwards. He lives in the past a lot and we're trying to get him to live in the future. I told him (Friday), the only time I'll take you out is if you make a mistake and make another mistake because you're thinking about the last mistake. I won't take you out for making a mistake. So hopefully that works."

The Celtics are 11 games into the regular season and Milicic has made just one appearance, playing a total of just five minutes. Reserve forwards Jared Sullinger and Chris Wilcox have sopped up the playing time behind Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass. It's difficult to argue that Milicic should be playing more; he was brought in as a deep reserve and those guys often sit, night after night. He doesn't need to be thrilled with that reality, but he shouldn't be surprised by it either.

Roster spots are precious on a Celtics team that is clearly aiming for another deep playoff run. Should Milicic follow through on his plans to leave, GM Danny Ainge could add another veteran big man to replace him. Yahoo! Sports reports that free agent Kenyon Martin, who has been waiting on a call from anybody, could be the guy.

Some Celtics' veterans have been pushing for the team to sign Martin. Boston hasn't completely ruled out an eventual conversation with Martin about a role on the team, but the most likely scenario would be for the Celtics to hold onto the roster spot and see who else might become available in the next couple of months.
Production-wise, Martin and Milicic posted similar stats last season. Martin averaged 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds as a reserve for the Clippers; Milicic averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds as a token starter for the Timberwolves. From an outsider's perspective, Martin's brash personality and "seen it all" experience would seem to be a better fit with the likes of Garnett and Jason Terry than Milicic's timidity and moodiness. If the Milicic-for-Martin swap does come to fruition, the Celtics will come out of this just fine.
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