CHICAGO The preseason brought with it such promise for Darko Milicic.
The former No. 2 overall pick in 2003 seemed to have finally found a place where he could have a meaningful role and compete for a championship.
Of all the preseason developments for Boston, the potential impact that he can make both as a shot-blocker and a passer out of the post, stood out.
But that promise appears to be nothing more than that as Milicic finds himself in a familiar place right now -- on the Celtics bench.
Through seven games in Boston, Milicic's career with the Celtics consists of one appearance of less than five minutes.
In the past, Milicic would have sulked or complained about his predicament. But today, he seems to better understand that his time to help the Celtics may not come as quickly as he would like it to. And there is a consensus among the C's and Milicic that sooner or later, an opportunity for him to contribute will manifest itself.
"I just have to stay ready," Milicic told CSNNE.com recently. "Just be ready to play when I get my chance. That's all I can do."
Although the right wrist injury Milicic suffered was indeed a setback for him, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his health isn't the reason why he has played so sparingly.
"Other guys are just playing better right now," Rivers said matter-of-factly. "Darko will help us at some point this year. Jason (Collins) absolutely will help us as well. You just can't play everybody."
To see big men sitting on the bench or not playing at all is becoming a common trend in the NBA this season.
In Boston's season-opener at Miami on October 30, the two Heat players that were inactive for that game were the Heat's only two true centers. Celtics rookie center Fab Melo has been inactive in all seven of the C's games this season.
Rivers has been among the many coaches who has found putting his best players on the floor often means going with a lineup that's smaller than the traditional five-man unit which typically includes one center.
And while the Celtics going with smaller lineups is the new norm in the NBA, there are still some teams that still stick with having a true center in the middle.
"I just think right now, it's like the NFL," Rivers said. "Some teams pass all the time. Some teams use the running back and even the fullback, which is unheard of these days. Our league is pretty much mirroring that a lot."