People may not remember this but Darko Milicic broke his right (non-shooting) knuckle against the Indiana Pacers on December 26th. Against Denver this week Darko was seen for the first time without a splint on his hand. So when should Darko be ready to return to game action?
Naturally there will be time needed to get Darko back into game shape. No one can sit for a month and immediately be ready to return to action much less return to his starting role with the team. There is conditioning and timing thatwill need to be brought back up to speed and now there is a new coach in town who Darko istotally unfamilliar with. Hollins may have had a history with the franchise but he hasn’t coached this teamsince the Grizzlies signed Darko.
Just to remind everyone, Memphis is 1-14 since Darko got hurt. Compare that to the 10-19 record prior to losing Darko and you start to see theimpact the defensive skills and size Darko brings to the game impacts the team as awhole. 10-19 isn’t great but it sure is a lot better than 1-14!
Darko’s intensity and determination have been sorely missed on the court. While Milicic hasn’t evolved into the unstoppable offensive force that so many people predicted for him in 2003 but he is a far better defender than was expected of him when he entered the draft.
More importantly Memphis needs a stronger PF on the nights (like the Denver game) when opponents throw up two serious bigs against them. Darko is that man. I know he is European and that implies a softer focus among many Memphis fans but Darko has far more in common with Marc Gasol than Pau. Darko will get dirty. Darko will get nasty. Darko will not back down when people try to push him around. Basically Darko is tougher than most big men in the league. Maybe not as graceful but definately as tough.
Which brings us back to when is Darko coming back?