“I used to enjoy playing and scoring,” Memphis’ Darko Milicic tells the Commercial-Appeal’s Ronald Tillery, bemoaning his current state, pigeonholed as a defensive specialist.  “This isn’t the way I want to finish my career.”

Milicic, who will be a 2010 free agent, could return to Europe.

“I lot of days I think that,” Milicic said, “because the only way to be me is in Europe. I don’t want to be a defensive player the rest of my career. It’s not really what I want to do.”

Milicic lost the starting job this season to rookie Spaniard Marc Gasol, partly based on his offensive inconsistency.

“In Europe, I can be a different player with the ball going through me,” Milicic said. “Here, you take a shot and you just don’t want to miss. You think too much.

“I want to get my confidence back on the offensive end. I want the ball to go through me so I can have a chance to miss without worrying about it. And I want a chance to make plays. (Europe) has good basketball, and it would be closer to home.”

Finishing at the rim isn’t always Milicic’s strong suit because he tends to play with finesse around the rim instead of dunking with authority. His shooting touch from beyond the foul line comes and goes, too.

“And he’s got to make his free throws,” Iavaroni said. “People are going to foul him. Finishing and making free throws is a big part of being a center. We’ll get back to (having the ball go through Milicic) when I see the focus and efficiency on offense.”

Milicic’s status as the no.2 overall pick in ’03 ahead of Carmelo Anthony, D-Wade and Chris Bosh means anything less than NBA stardom will have him forever characterized as a bust, perhaps unfairly.  And while we’ll never know exactly how much Larry Brown is to blame for stunting Darko’s development, the underachieving center probably would’ve been better off playing professionally for a few years in Europe prior to landing stateside.