There's very little housekeeping left to do before the Knicks start playing games that count. They ended Allan Houston's latest comeback attempt yesterday and released extended family member Dan Grunfeld, leaving 16 players on a team that only has room for 15.
The last spot on the team likely comes down to a battle between the enormous waste Jerome James, third-string point guard Anthony Roberson and rookie Patrick Ewing Jr. Of those three, I can't imagine why Ewing would be the player sent packing. He's younger than both guys, more athletic than James (but, then, so am I) and makes a piddling amount of money. And one more thing, he actually allows Knick fans to remember a time when they weren't the laughingstock of the NBA.
On a better team that wouldn't be reason enough to keep a player. But the Knicks aren't a better team. They're a team that could use the karmic boost that keeping Ewing might give them and a team that could give their fans a gift by finally ridding the team of the 300-odd pound anchor that is James. He isn't going to play and, despite being of a jovial nature, doesn't offer them anything of use beyond being salary ballast in a trade.
That's not insignificant. With the feverish pursuit of LeBron 2010 already in progress, James's salary could well be useful next offseason as a trading chip. So, if that's the decision, it should be Roberson who is sent packing. He's not going to see much court time behind Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson and Stephon Marbury and, like James, doesn't have the intangible benefit Ewing brings to the team.