After all, if the Rangers land the best Canadian prospect in the draft pool they'll likely be back in the playoffs sooner rather than later. Sadly, Canada isn't exactly a basketball hotbed and the future of the Knicks isn't going to have all that much to do with Syracuse guard Andy Rautins.
Rautins, a member of the Canadian national team though he actually grew up upstate, was the first Knicks pick of the night at number 38 overall. He's well-known to Big East watchers who are familiar with his long-range shooting skills and, well, that's all anyone has actually seen him do. Mike D'Antoni could always use another shooter but Rautins wasn't on many radar screens. His selection was met with a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd at Madison Square Garden, which was a lot better than Landry Fields got when he was announced as the second Knicks pick of the second round.
There were boos but the overwhelming reaction was the silence of the dumbstruck. Fields was so lightly regarded that he didn't appear in the NBA's draft media guide even though he led the Pac-10 in scoring as a starter for Stanford last season. Perhaps that was because the Pac-10 was historically bad or perhaps it is because his name sounds like somewhere the Dallas Cowboys would hold training camp, but the addition of Fields to Rautins led draft pundits from all corners to single the Knicks out for derision.
That analysis doesn't include Tulsa center Jerome Jordan, who went 44th to the Bucks and is reportedly on his way to the Knicks. Please note that his name is Jerome Jordan, not Jerome James, and that the Knicks could certainly use a seven-footer on their roster regardless of what happens next month. Chad Ford of ESPN.com writes that Jordan has great size and skills but "a motor that's on idle too much of the time." Um, maybe he is actually Jerome James.
The Knicks may have had designs on doing other things on draft night, but a couple of moves by other teams probably affected their decision to avoid moving up to spend money on a player in the first round. The Heat and Bulls each made trades to create more salary cap room, moves that had to scare Donnie Walsh a week before free agency opens. Neither of them can offer two max deals like the Knicks, but in Dwyane Wade and a stocked Bulls roster each has enough other items to entice the players the Knicks actually need to get better.
That's not to say they couldn't have done more in the second round on Thursday or, more precisely, it's not to say that anyone knows exactly how any of these players are going to pan out. Fields and Rautins could both pan out and become guys who get called steals in three years. The fact of the matter is that whoever they wound up with at the end of the night isn't going to matter in the larger scheme of things. If the Knicks strike out in free agency, then the team's going to stink whether they have Rautins and Fields or Lance Stephenson and Devin Ebanks.
If they hit a home run, though, no one's going to talk about Rautins, Fields, Jordan or anybody else that was on the table on Thursday night. The real season starts now.