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Milicic wants to leave Knicks, return to Europe

Darko Milicic is hoping for a buyout from

Darko Milicic is hoping for a buyout from the Knicks. Credit: Newsday/Jason DeCrow

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Knicks are the latest team to give up on Darko Milicic, which is why Milicic has given up on the NBA.

Milicic, who hasn't played since Nov. 13, has asked the Knicks to let him go so he can take the year off and pursue a career in Europe next season.

"They can't promise me nothing," the native of Serbia said Thursday after practice. "They can't promise me when it's going to happen or if it's going to happen. They say they're working on it. We'll see."

The problem? Milicic, 24, is being paid $7.5 million to pine on the pine, and the Knicks would have to agree to release him or to a buyout before he can put the NBA in his rear-view mirror.

"We are talking right now," Milicic said. "Trying to find the best solution for them and me. Just being here for nothing, it's not me. There's a lot of guys in the league just happy to be around. That's not me. I'm not happy just to be around. I've got to play."

That hasn't happened and there's no indication it will. Acquired from Memphis in a draft-day trade, the 7-foot center has logged 70 minutes in eight games. The Knicks are Milicic's fourth NBA team; he hopes they're his last one.

"People don't trust me here," he said, meaning in the NBA, not the Knicks, for whom he had only kind words. (The Knicks are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.)

"Here nobody's going to give me an opportunity that I'm looking for, so I've got to be real," he said. "I can't lie to myself. The only opportunity I'm going to get is going to be Europe."

Milicic was the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft, selected by Detroit ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. If he lives to be 100, he will never live down that dubious distinction.

His best season was 2006-07, when he played in 80 games for Orlando and averaged 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

"I just want to enjoy playing," he said. "I'm trying to think back: What kind of player am I really? Can I play? I know I can play. I don't want to be an -- , but for me, 10, 15 minutes is going to do nothing right now."

Knicks president Donnie Walsh did not respond to a request for comment, but in recent days he has indicated he would talk with Milicic's agent.

Coach Mike D'Antoni responded with less tact Wednesday when he was told Milicic wants to be waived. "Cool," he said. But D'Antoni did praise Milicic for not being a problem despite his desire to flee.

Said Milicic after a spirited one-on-one practice session with rookie Jordan Hill yesterday: "I'm going to stay here as long as I need to stay. The travel is killing me, just being by myself in my room and thinking. When I'm by myself, I think a lot. Stupid things get in my mind. Staying home with my family would be best."

Notes & quotes: Eddy Curry (sore left knee) did not practice.

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