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Darko Milicic considering leaving Celtics to return to Europe

Adrian Wojnarowski
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, After failing to play since opening night, Milicic has also been frustrated with his lack of a role with the Celtics, sources said.

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Darko Milicic (Reuters)

If Milicic, 27, leaves the Celtics less than a month into his one-year contract, it could ultimately spell the end of a disappointing NBA career that has included stops in Detroit, Orlando, Memphis, Minnesota and briefly, Boston.

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In recent years, Milcic has strongly considered a permanent return to Europe. Leaving the Celtics now could ultimately push him toward that phase of his career.

Boston coach Doc Rivers met with Milicic recently and told him to take time to make a decision on his family and future, sources said. Milicic had been productive in the preseason, but has fallen behind Jason Collins in the Celtics' rotation.

The Celtics had considered signing free-agent forward Kenyon Martin this offseason, but ultimately chose Collins, Chris Wilcox and Milicic over him. 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.

The Celtics have several similar forward-types to Martin, and would likely try to exhaust all possibilities among backup centers.

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Boston took Syracuse 7-foot center Fab Melo in the first-round of the 2012 draft, but have sent him to Maine of the D-League and don't expect he can be an immediate factor on a contending team.

Martin, 34, averaged five points and four rebounds in a reserve role for the Los Angeles Clippers a season ago. His game has dropped off significantly in recent years and he's become flustered over why he's struggled to find an NBA team willing to sign him this season. Martin has averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in his 12 NBA seasons with the Nets, Nuggets and Clippers.

"If someone calls me tomorrow, I don't care who it is, whether it's losing or winning at this point," Martin told Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears earlier this month. "If someone calls me tomorrow and wants me to come in, I'm going. Guys are going down and [teams] are like, 'Well, we are going to stick with what we got.' I'm like, 'Really?' I started questioning myself, 'Am I that bad of a guy?' "

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