Rick Adelman blasts disappointing Darko Milicic, who may be playing himself out of NBA

When he was 18, experts thought Darko would revolutionize the game. Now, at 27, he looks to be exiting the NBA with a whimper.
When he was 18, experts thought Darko would revolutionize the game. Now, at 27, he looks to be exiting the NBA with a whimper.

Darko Milicic was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the second overall pick during the 2003 NBA draft. The other top five picks that year? LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade.

Suffice it to say Darko hasn't quite lived up to his draft peers' level of performance during his disappointing eight-year career.

Comments made by Wolves coach Rick Adelman last night indicate that two years after trading for him and one offseason removed from signing him to a four-year, $20 million extension, the coaching staff has soured on Darko. At 27 years old and running out of fingers on which to count his disappointing seasons, the once uber-promising 7-footer may be on his way out of the NBA.

The Wolves have one game remaining in a grueling seven-game roadtrip, much of which they've had to play without ailing big man Nikola Pekovic. With Big Pek out, the Wolves really could've used some quality minutes from Darko, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Instead, Darko didn't play at all last night. In fact, he hasn't played at all in six of the Wolves' last seven games, and Adelman's comments before last night's loss in San Antonion indicate that Darko might not see the floor again anytime soon.

According to the Star Tribune, Adelman said:

He hasn't done anything to really give you a lot of faith that he's going to go out and do the job. He's gotten himself out of shape. He hasn't been as drive (sic) as you'd like so when a situation like this happens, it's time for someone to have their opportunity and get back in there. Today, he's going to get his chance and Anthony Randolph is going to get his chance and we'll see if any of those guys can step up.

At Yahoo, in a piece entitled "Rick Adelman joins the rest of us in not having much faith in Darko Milicic, which is a bummer," Dan Devine writes that the last of Darko's nine NBA lives is now on life support:

He's not very good from the field or the line. He doesn't rebound well for a center. Kahn's delusions aside, he never passed well enough to be compared to former Adelman frontcourt linchpins like Chris Webber, Vlade Divac or Brad Miller. His career offensive win shares number -- an estimate of how many wins a player has contributed, based solely on his offense, since entering the NBA -- is negative. And he'll never be a Ben Wallace or Metta World Peace type whose defensive contributions are excellent enough to overshadow spotty-or-worse offense.

That's why it was weird for Kahn to make a $20 million commitment to him, that's why Wolves fans were thrilled to see Pekovic take over the starting spot in the middle, and that's why no one batted an eyelash when Milicic didn't see the court for a week. And that's why, when [Adelman] said he doesn't have much faith that Darko can go out and do the job, most readers probably thought something along the lines of, "No [EXPLETIVE], Sherlock."

Could Darko really wash out of the league less than a decade after NBA experts opined that he would "own the game" and would be so good that "we're going to have to build a new arena"? Let's put it this way -- probably the only thing keeping him on the Wolves' roster right now is the four-year contract offered to him by Kahn, a contract that has only one guaranteed year left after this season. In the end, Milicic's disappointing tale serves as more evidence that evaluating teenage athletes is much closer to an art than a science.

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