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Who could replace Darko down the road?

Doc Rivers was on WEEI this morning with Dennis & Callahan talking about Darko's decision to possibly leave the team to tend to his ailing mother. Although his departure is unfortunate and the circumstances even worse, it does open up the potential for another free agent signing.


First, here's what he said about Darko:

"It's up to him right now," Rivers said. "He has some family issues, more his mom. Not playing, and being in another country, and the NBA hasn't gone exactly great for him over his career. So, it's a lot of reasons for him to want to leave. And I understand that, and I told him that. So, I pretty much left it up to him. He has my blessing either way."

Yet another classy response from one of the best coaches in the game. As a former player, Doc understands the pressures of the game and it's no surprise that he's giving Milicic a lot of leeway here. From a basketball and even a personal perspective, selfishly, I want him to stay. I think he can help this team and I think Darko could use the positive energy of being around players and coaches that believe in him and want him to find a role, but I totally get it if returns to Europe. Family comes first and I wish him and his loved ones the best.

But with that said, if he does leave, it opens up a roster spot. Doc had this to say on the topic:

"I don't think we're in any rush to do that," Rivers said. "If we see somebody out there that we think can help us if Darko leaves, then yes. If not, patience usually helps in our league. Especially after the All-Star break, guys get released, other guys become available. I think we'll be patient."

Let's preface the following suggestions with the fact that Darko hasn't made his decision yet. Doc's tone suggests that Milicic sounds like he's leaning on leaving, but we just don't know right now. Kenyon Martin seems to be the free agent du jour that the players and some fans are clamoring for, but with some patience, the Celtics could benefit from waiting. Here are some possible names that could come up:

Delonte West: Sure, we're guard heavy, but there's something to be said about bringing in a veteran that knows the system and that Doc trusts. DWest has always been a fan favorite in Boston and one way or another, I see him wrapping up his career in Celtic green.

Royce White: The news out of Houston is that he met with Daryl Morey yesterday, but it's yet to be reported what the outcome of their meeting was. His anxiety disorder is a sensitive issue, but it sounded like the Celtics were willing to accommodate him if they had a chance to draft him in June and there were rumors that Danny had even made a promise to him, but the Rockets snatched him up at #16.

Elton Brand: Depending on where the Mavs are in January, they could opt to buy out Brand. It's not likely, but the veteran big man is playing on a one-year contract and could ask to leave to join a contender. His teammate Chris Kaman is also a possibility, but I don't see a scenario where even the deep pockets of Mark Cuban would shell out enough money to buy Captain Caveman out.

J.J. Hickson: The Blazers drafted Meyers Leonard to be the center of the future in Portland and if they're out of the playoffs by the All Star break, they could cut Hickson and turn to their paint prospect.

Jason Maxiell: The big man is in the final year of his contract and with Andre Drummond waiting in the wings, they could cut Maxiell loose and continue with their Detroit makeover. I could see the same fate fall on Charlie Villanueva, but after his run in with Garnett a few years ago, there's no way that CV ends up in Boston.

Zaza Pachulia: When the trade season opens up in January, all eyes will be on Josh Smith, but it could be another Hawks big man that could see himself in TD Garden. Zaza's another guy that KG has had beef with, but tell me he wouldn't want to play with someone that's got the balls to go head-to-head with him. Danny Ferry has been busy revamping the roster and Pachulia could be a buy out candidate. Johan Petro could also find himself on the chopping block.

Jermaine O`Neal: I hate to even mutter the name, but if Phoenix continues to slide, could we see J.O. back in Boston? We all want Marcin Gortat, but might have to settle on a buyout big who, like Delonte West, is familiar with our defense. He didn't exactly leave the team on good terms last season and may not even be healthy by mid-season, but if we're shopping for an insurance big with our 15th man, we could do worse. Like, Troy Murphy worse.

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