A Daily Babble Production
Since we're not really sure how else to label a move when a team trades a guy who doesn't play for it for a guy who isn't even a guarantee to make the team out of training camp - but it's still a solid move - we're going with 'feel-good.'
That's exactly what the Knicks did on Friday when they sent the draft rights to Frederic Weis to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Patrick Ewing Jr. They made a move that is virtually impossible to imagine as anything but a morale booster for both the fan base and the organization, and as an added bonus (or added bummer for those of us Knicks detractors), it might even have some good basketball ramifications for the long-suffering 'Bockers.
The benefit of the Ewing Jr. end of the equation is likely evident enough. The guy is the son of one of the team and the league's all-time greats, easily the most beloved Knick since the championship days of the early '70s. The elder Patrick Ewing has long since given his blessing for the team to pull the retired number 33 down from the rafters in the event that his son becomes part of the team, and that this may become a reality at least for the duration of training camp is a nice gift for Knicks fans.
For a fan base that has suffered through miserable basketball and character issues for most of the new millennium, any link to the days when the Knicks were a perennial Eastern contender will almost undoubtedly be a welcome reprieve from thinking about the present. It also doesn't hurt that while the younger Ewing isn't his father by any stretch, he has plenty of potential in his own right.
Junior is 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, and scouts rave about his great length. His overall athleticism is expected to give him a shot to become a very solid defensive player at the professional level, although he may never become a premier scorer. On the plus side for Junior, the Knicks are sorely in need of defenders. On the other hand, Mike D'Antoni's system doesn't seem to have any real value for defenders.
The Knicks now have 16 players under contract, so either Junior will have to beat someone out for a spot, or the Knicks will need to make another preseason move in order to get back down to the roster maximum of 15. But that he even has a shot to make the team gives Knicks fans a new young face to support and a link to better days.
Of course, the real highlight for some Knicks aficionados might be the end of the long unseen pariah that is Frederic Weis. The fact that we're still talking about his draft rights is practically a joke, since he wasn't drafted in the 21st century. Weis remains one of the all-time draft gaffes in Knicks history, drafted 15th in 1999 as the would-be successor to Patrick Ewing for when the franchise cornerstone moved on, which would happen just a season later. Among others, the Knicks passed up a much-desired Queens product out of St. John's named Ron Artest (drafted 16th), Jeff Foster (21st) and Andrei Kirilneko (24th). Late in the second round, a fellow from Argentina would go to the Spurs, and that would work out with considerably more success than the overseas gamble the Knicks took.
Nine year later, Weis has played a total of zero games in a Knicks uniform. The team has been utterly horrendous for most of his would-have-been tenure. Because of the round-the-clock hype machine in New York, the fans are still recovering from too many years at the beginning of the decade of actually expecting him to come to town and then being sorely disappointed. Along the way, Weis became best known internationally for this wonderful encounter with the legs of one Vince Carter at the 2000 Olympics, brought to us courtesy of YouTube user supra2k8:
Having the now-31-year-old Weis gone for good comes a few years too late for the 'Bocker faithful, but it's still better late than never.
The Knicks dump a ghost who caused the organization and fans no shortage of irritation during the last nine years, and they pick up a guy who might be good enough to hang on this team. But even if he isn't, he's got genetic ties to a former great. Yep, this is indeed as feel-good as it gets for the Knicks these days.