From this question and answer, it is pretty clear that booting from USB is not possible, even with a USB CD/DVD drive. You also do not have a working CD/DVD drive and no access to netboot/PXE. There isn't really another option I am aware of unless you wanted to pull the hard drive and write the boot/install image to a bootable partition on the hard drive or perhaps just install the distro but you may have issues switching hardware after installation, then return the hard drive to your laptop and start the installation from there (I am not positive this would work, but it would in theory). Some searching on eBay or similar sites may net you a very cheap CD-ROM or DVD drive for this laptop, since it is so old there is likely little monetary value in the components.
As far as the "most suitable" distro for this device, it would have to be lightweight, VERY lightweight, such as Puppy Linux or one of it's variants, or perhaps one of these options.