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Out of the Darko: Walsh Has High Hopes for Knicks' Latest Acquisition

MILWAUKEE - NOVEMBER 14: Darko Milicic #31 of the Memphis Grizzlies puts a shot up during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 14, 2007 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The Bucks won 102-99.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jason BurkeCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2009

With baseball season waning down into the final stretch and football's minicamps and preseason games already underway, basketball will not be too far behind.

Waiting for the Knicks season to begin and, ultimately, the LeBron James sweepstakes countdown to start, GM Donnie Walsh has been hard at work, looking at players that could change the franchise and convince James that Madison Square Garden is the place for a King.

Recently, Walsh has been unsuccessful at prying Jason Kidd and Grant Hill from Dallas and Phoenix, respectively.

He has been looking to upgrade at the point, bringing in Troy Hudson and Jason Williams for workouts, in the hope they could regain some of their old form, and feverishly working on ways to land Ricky Rubio or sign Ramon Sessions.

He is also in the middle of heavy negotiations with David Lee and Nate Robinson with regards to their future within the organization. Rumors are flying abound that the Knicks may be working on sign and trade possibilities for Lee.

But in the middle of it all, Donnie Walsh took some time to let it be known that he is happy with one acquisition so far, and that is Darko Milicic.

In the minds of many NBA fans, especially Pistons fans, Milicic is the boy sandwiched between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as part of the talent rich 2003 NBA draft.

He is also synonymous with the word "bust."

Spending his first two and a half seasons in Detroit, Milicic was a rarely used commodity, only playing during insurmountable leads. During his tenure in Detroit, he never averaged two points per game.

He was subsequently traded to the Orlando Magic, where he would finally receive some of the playing time he craved, and was a bit more productive before signing a lucrative three year, $21 million offer from the Memphis Grizzlies.

He came to the New York Knicks on draft night in exchange for Quentin Richardson.

Darko has never lived up to the hype or potential that comes when your name was mentioned in the same breath as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. He has never averaged more than eight points or six rebounds in any one season, but Donnie Walsh has a theory about that.

"I think the thing that's held him back is he's been thought of as a guy who has to play with his back to the basket. And everywhere he's been, people have tried to do that," explained Walsh.

"The way (coach) Mike (D'Antoni) plays—the fact that he's a skilled, fairly athletic, long big man who can run the floor and can dribble the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball—he might fit into the system better. That's what I'm hoping for."

Milicic is still only 24 years old and, in Walsh, has at least one person left who believes he can become a star.

As for the Knicks, they are counting on stealing the first and second pick of the 2003 draft. 

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