Where The Hell is Darko Milicic?

A number of us asked that question verbatim last night. The moment was right. David Lee and Al Harrington were both getting pretty soundly bulldozed by Al Horford in the third quarter, which allowed the Hawks to take the lead and never look back. It almost made you wish the Knicks had a defensively capable 7-footer on the bench to deter Horford's points in the paint. Ohhhh.....wait. Darko Milicic didn't leave the bench last night, and hasn't done so since the Milwaukee game last Saturday. Darko saw 17 minutes on opening night, and has hit double digits only twice since then. What gives? In the footnotes of today's article, Marc Berman sheds some light:

Backup center Darko Milicic received his second straight DNP. "A couple of games, I was playing for five minutes, it's not like playing 30 minutes to zero minutes, not really a shock," Milicic said.

Milicic has looked out of place on the offensive end. Mike D'Antoni, once known to be good with European players, explained his decision is based on wanting more speed in the lineup.

The Knicks are trying to make room for Eddy Curry, who could be ready next Wednesday in Indiana. D'Antoni indicated Curry won't have to earn his minutes, a shift in previous philosophy.

Speed, eh? I'm not so sure Darko would be slowing anything down. Though the Knicks are 5th in the league in pace so far, they are near-last in fast break points. New York gets possessions aplenty because of poor shot selection and worse transition defense. So, if the speed ain't happening either way, why not employ some size? David Lee's looked pretty helpless playing out of position, and Jared Jeffries can only do so much with his skeletal frame. The fact that the past week went by with neither Darko nor Jordan Hill (another big who deserves at least a glimpse of the floor, if only for appearances) getting a real chance to check Horford (9-16 for 25 points), Carlos Boozer (10-14 for 23), or Andrew Bogut (8-14 for 22) for any significant stretch of time is perplexing.

I suppose that a rejuvenated Eddy Curry could help fill the hole in due time, but Eddy's never been a defensive specialist, to put it kindly. Also, Curry still won't be back for a week or so. Why shoot yourself in the foot in the meantime? I'd say D'Antoni's best bet is to free Darko immediately, and liberate Jordan Hill while he's at it. The Knicks could use some size, and when you're 1-8, there isn't much to lose.

What say you?

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