WALTHAM — Neither Darko Milicic nor the Celtics can define with clarity the nature of his departure from the team.
Doc Rivers, however, is assuming that Milicic’s absence will be permanent.
Asked whether Milicic will be returning, the Celtics coach said, “It doesn’t look like it.”
Rivers acknowledged that Milicic’s mother is ill, a factor in the Serbian’s decision to leave the team. Rivers said he noticed a difference in Milicic’s play when he learned of his mother’s condition.
But Milicic, the second overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft by Detroit, had also been a spare part for the Celtics. The 27-year-old had appeared in only one game this season. On Nov. 2 against Milwaukee, Milicic logged five minutes of playing time. He missed the only shot he attempted, turned the ball over twice, and grabbed one rebound.
Milicic also appeared in two preseason games. He had 6 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes of action in a 107-75 loss to Philadelphia Oct. 15. Two days earlier, Milicic had 3 points in seven minutes in a 98-95 loss to Phoenix.
Milicic did not travel with the team to Detroit for Sunday’s game.
“This stuff with his family has been going on for a while,” Rivers said. “We’ve talked about it 3-4 times. It’s probably 50-50. But once you get the one side working, that’s always going to win out.”
The Celtics have not made an official transaction regarding Milicic. Rivers said they are in no rush to fill his roster spot.
“With his mom being sick, he’s not playing, homesickness, it happens,” Rivers said.
“I didn’t fight him much. I told him he’s got to do what he thinks is right. I’m going to support him one way or the other. But it’s been going on for a little bit now.”
After Tuesday’s practice at HealthPoint, Rivers insisted he did not know anything regarding the particulars of Rajon Rondo’s assist streak (10 or more assists in 34 straight games).
“I don’t even know what it is, I swear to gosh,” Rivers said. “I have no idea what he’s chasing. I just hear that he’s got a streak going. Who is he chasing? I don’t even know that.”
Magic Johnson owns the NBA record of 46 straight games with 10-plus assists. Rondo trails John Stockton by three games.
Rondo extended the streak in Sunday’s 103-83 loss to the Pistons. Rondo recorded his 10th assist with 51 seconds left in the game. The streak would have ended had Rivers not sent Rondo back out in fourth-quarter garbage time.
“We were getting blown out, and I just told him, ‘Stay in and get it,’ ” Rivers said. “I didn’t know what. I knew it was a 10-assist streak.”
Rondo’s next opportunity to extend the streak is Wednesday against San Antonio.
“You’ve got to pay respect to Rondo for what he does for this basketball team,” said Jared Sullinger. “He gets a lot of people opened up. He deserves the streak. I thought that was amazing for Doc to do that for him. He deserves it.
“For what he does for us, and how he gets us open for shots, and makes the game a lot easier, he deserves something like that. I didn’t mind it all. I was happy he did it.”
Take it easy
After a day off Monday, the Celtics breezed through a light practice Tuesday. The team is coming off a stretch of seven games in 10 days. “It wasn’t much today,” Rivers said. “I think we’re still tired, honestly. Today’s practice was light. We didn’t do a lot. I just didn’t feel like we could work on a lot today. I just needed them in the gym together, run through stuff, and run into each other a couple times.” . . . The Celtics will not have another 7-in-10 stretch this season. They showed their fatigue in Sunday’s loss to the Pistons. Asked if he’d ever played in a such a stretch, Sullinger said, “If you count AAU. You play seven games in two days. But four or five of those games are blowouts where you sit on the bench and tie your shoes. The night-to-night grind is real. Nobody understands what kind of shape you have to be in to do that. And how much rest and eating right takes place in that. That was a good learning experience.” . . . Rivers cited three constants to San Antonio’s success: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. “That’s where it’s different than everywhere, including us. We have to change. That’s what makes them so consistent.”