Carmelo Anthony may finally be a New York Knick, but now it's time to get back to business.
The Knicks decimated their roster in the Anthony trade and are now, more than ever, in desperate need of a big man and a backup point guard.
Although there is a need for a legitimate center, New York can get by without one. Amar'e Stoudemire and Ronnie Turiaf have shouldered the burden up front for most of the season, and the Knicks have proved to be effective when going with a small lineup.
A backup point guard is now a must-have, though. The Knicks were able to scrape by with just Raymond Felton up until now, but he was only 25 and still banged up as it was.
Now, New York now has Chauncey Billups, a stellar veteran, but at the age of 34, he cannot give the Knicks 40-plus minutes a game. Not too mention that Billups may not even fair that well in coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
The Knicks thrive off playing in transition and running the floor, but Billups is more of a half-court point guard. Don't get me wrong, Billups is a good ballplayer, but the combination of his age and uncertainty about how he will do in D'Antoni's system makes finding a backup all the more essential.
Toney Douglas can provide effective minutes off the bench for New York, but he is just not a true point guard. He is not the floor general that Felton is and cannot direct the offense the way Billups can.
Douglas is more of an undersized 2, and while the Knicks will welcome his scoring and defense off the bench, he is not the answer to New York's point guard woes.
The Knicks also acquired point guard Anthony Carter from the Nuggets as part of the Anthony deal, but at 35, he is older and more susceptible to injury than Billups is.
Carter has barely averaged only 20 minutes a game over his career and has only appeared in 14 games this season for Denver. And like Billups, he plays more of a half-court game and may not be a good fit for the Knicks' offensive style
New York is thought to still be in the trade market for a backup point guard and are dangling Kelenna Azuibike's insurance-covered expiring contract along with Corey Brewer, whom they acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves, as bait to get one.
However, all the Knicks have to do is look within their own organization for a solution to their point guard troubles.
That's right. I'm talking about the rookie Andy Rautins out of Syracuse.
Rautins has only appeared in four games this season during garbage time for the Knicks, but he may be just what they need.
In his last season at Syracuse, he averaged 12 points, five assists and two steals per game. He also averaged over 32 minutes a game, so he is accustomed to—well, maybe not so much now—playing big-time minutes.
And just a throw-in, Rautins shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc in last season, so he would fit in perfectly with the Knicks three-point happy offense.
Although 12 points and five assists may not seem that impressive, Rautins was in Jim Boeheim's system at Syracuse, which is nothing like D'Antoni's point guard friendly one.
At Syracuse, Rautins showed he could thrive while playing in transition, but rarely had the opportunity to because of the half-court offensive system he was in.
Rautins may be raw, but he has been thought to be able to develop a game that is similar to, yet exceeds that of Orlando Magic's J.J. Redick.
Redick currently averages 10 points and two assists in 25 minutes per game for the Magic, and he is shooting a deadly 40 percent from three-point range.
The Knicks would welcome such a contribution from the rookie Rautins, who is capable of putting up such numbers and then some, especially in the assist department.
Rautins plays the game of a true point guard, which is something the Knicks desperately need. He has impressed with his play in practice, and now that the Knicks have just blown-up their roster, he may get an opportunity to play some quality minutes.
He is a pass-first point guard that can run the floor with ease and direct traffic on the offensive end effectively. And when he's open, the kid can score.
Landry Fields, who has become Rautins' best friend, will support these notions. He knows what Rautins is capable of.
Additionally, it has been reported that Fields and Rautins have developed remarkable chemistry in practice, so these two have the potential to become quite a tandem on the court during actual games for the Knicks.
New York may have two superstars in Stoudemire and Anthony, but the Knicks need someone to put the ball in their hands.
And while Billups may be capable, he is not enough.
The Knicks need not look any further than down their own bench to solve their current point guard conflict.
Should Rautins get an opportunity to play, I steadfastly believe he will succeed.
He is more than capable of handling the backup duties, and do not be surprised if he is able to shine brighter than Billups in this offensive system.
The Knicks need to stockpile and develop assets now if they want to make a run at Chris Paul or Deron Williams next season, as well as if they want to make some noise in the playoffs this season.
Rautins can satisfy both of these needs given the opportunity. He, like Fields, will turn heads and surprise people.
All the Knicks need to do is put the ball in his hands and let Rautins show them what he can do.
It will be a decision they will never come to regret.