The Pistons’ Darko Milicic, 2nd overall pick in the 2003 draft, receives little if any playing time with the defending champs, and with the likes of Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Elden Campbell at Larry Brown’s disposal, that isn’t likely to change anytime soon writes the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky.
Say this for Darko Milicic, his timing couldn’t have been much worse.
With the Pistons riding a six-game winning streak, the second-year center decided to voice his frustration and displeasure, and he isn’t getting a whole lot of sympathy from Coach Larry Brown or President Joe Dumars.
“I have talked to Joe,” Milicic said before the Pistons lost to the Magic, 103-101, Tuesday. “We talked about finding a solution for me, because to not play the whole year, it’s very tough for my mind.”
Milicic (above) said he has not requested a trade. Dumars talked to Marc Cornstein, Milicic’s agent, on Tuesday and Cornstein said in no way were they asking for a trade.
But Milicic added: “We have to find a solution in the next couple of days.”
Or what, he was asked.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” he said. “Joe will do what he can do. I wish I can stay here. I hope the solution is that I stay here. I love it here. I love the team and I love the people in Detroit. But not playing is really tough for me.”
“I would be concerned if Elden said he was unhappy,” Brown said. “Darko is 19. When he earns the right to play, and he proves he’s better than those guys, he will play.”
Certainly Milicic’s play of late hasn’t encouraged Brown to give him more minutes. In his last 21 minutes of action, he has had more turnovers (3) and airballs (3) than baskets (1). He has mostly appeared disinterested on the court. He did not play Tuesday night.
“I understand where he’s coming from,” Brown said. “If you are a lottery pick, you generally go to a team that needs you. And if you are a top three pick, they are usually building their team around you.
“But what’s disappointing to me, saying you want to play is one thing, going out and earning the right is more important – and he hasn’t figured that out.”
Milicic doesn’t think he’s gotten a chance.
“Everybody has got a chance to play, even the rookies who just came this year,” Milicic said. “I didn’t get a chance. I was playing and everybody said great job, great job – then I don’t play.”
The reason for that was the return of Antonio McDyess from an injury.
“Darko is the most fortunate and unfortunate young guy that was drafted last year,” Dumars said. “He’s fortunate because he’s the only one who has a championship ring. He’s unfortunate because he’s playing behind some really, really good players.”
As Milicic is aware, those three players are going to be here for several more seasons. Which begs the question, when will Milicic get to play?
“He determines that,” Dumars said, pointedly. “I won’t, his agent won’t, even the coaches won’t. He will dictate that. I won’t waiver on this – you’ve got to earn it. That won’t change.
“Darko has to take some bad medicine right now. It doesn’t taste good, but it’s good for you in the long run.”
“Look, I am not dumb,” Brown said. “I want him to play. I would love for him to play. But I am also going to be fair and make sure he earns the right. Otherwise we’d lose all credibility in that locker room and that’s something that’s never going to happen.”