It’s exactly 57 days until the Knicks’ season begins — and, more important, 667 days until LeBron James becomes a free agent — yet new GM Donnie Walsh’s roster is still full of Isiah Thomas’s merry band of overpriced underachievers. And though, in theory, he has a plan to get under the salary cap by the summer of 2010, he’s thus far been quiet, making only minor moves. In fact, for a while last week it seemed as if his short-term plan to improve the Knicks was to do it through karma. (And if that’s the case, we’re willing to give anything a shot.) How else to explain the otherwise unnecessary trade of Frederick Weis, their 1999 first-round draft pick who’s known for exactly two things — never playing in the NBA, and getting posterized by Vince Carter during the 2000 Olympics — for Patrick Ewing Jr., who at least is the son of the legendary Knicks center, but isn’t expected to make the team’s roster?
But sadly, it now looks like Walsh isn’t too concerned with pleasing the NBA cosmos, since increasing speculation has Zach Randolph on his way to Memphis for the ultimate symbol of NBA futility, Darko Milicic. Don’t get us wrong: Randolph’s been more or less a disaster, his bloated contract is one of many handcuffing Walsh, and he’s completely wrong for Mike D’Antoni’s offensive scheme. But when you’ve finally rid yourself of the worst draft pick in franchise history, why bring in one of the worst in league history? Sure, Darko’s seen more minutes in the last couple of years, but he’ll forever be the Sam Bowie of this generation.
So if the mere presence of Weis’s name in some MSG file cabinet was thought to be bad enough mojo that Walsh traded him after nine years of inactivity, then what would the awkward presence of Darko himself mean? Could this be some sort of ill-conceived attempt to recruit the draft class of 2003? (Though we’d like to think fifth-pick Dwyane Wade keeps second-pick Darko in his Fave 5, for motivational purposes.) Won’t it be hard for the Knicks to shake the “laughingstock” label, being that Darko, at least for a while, was king of the NBA laughingstocks? So many questions; so little playing time.