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Post-draft, pre-lockout musings for Knicks

ANDY RAUTINS, Guard He’s buried behind so many


He’s buried behind so many veteran point guards, but has made more appearances on MSG Network for hilarious “Andy & Landry Show” than on court.
Credit: Jim McIsaac

 While we still have business to discuss, let's discuss some business: 

* - The Knicks new hybrid affiliation with the Erie BayHawks of the D-League may give them the advantage of adding a few unsigned free agents with the wink-and-a-nod promise that playing for the BayHawks will assure an invite to Knicks training camp, whenever the impending lockout ends.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said last fall that the D-League will remain fully operational during a lockout, but that doesn't mean teams can stash some of their young players there the way NHL teams used the AHL during the 2004-05 lockout.

So players such as draftees Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson and rookies Landry Fields and Andy Rautins, can not be added to the D-League roster during the lockout. The Knicks can't even send big man Jerome Jordan, who spent the past year in Europe, to Erie, either. The fact that Jordan can't participate is tough news, as the Knicks would love to get him into their system and work with him in Erie. But the rule is that no player who is currently under contract or whose draft rights are owned by an NBA team can participate in the D-League during the lockout. The Knicks could attempt to petition the league to allow Jordan to play in the D-League (after all, he wasn't on the Knicks' roster last season), but the NBA obviously has more important matters to consider right now.

Rookie free agents -- those who went undrafted -- can be added to a D-League roster (these players are eligible to be signed AFTER June 30) by Erie, but they technically would not be property of the Knicks. The same goes for free agents who weren't under contract at the end of the 2010-11 season, such as Javaris Crittenton and Bonzi Wells, who were at the Knicks' free agent minicamp earlier this month. 

There's not a great deal of incentive for veterans to play in the D-League, where the salary range is somewhere between $15,000 to $28,000. But it may be worth the trouble for players looking to reclaim their careers. The D-League, which could be the only game for a while, will get a lot of attention from scouts. And if the lockout does cut into the NBA season, teams will have little time to assemble a roster and hold a brief training camp.

* - Teams do have the ability to make trades up until June 30, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires, but the Knicks aren't expected to make any moves of significance. With so much uncertainty about the new cap system, there is a hesitancy for most teams to make any major decisions. 

* - Rautins might have been even more disappointed to see the Knicks draft a guard than even Toney Douglas and for good reason. Rautins was never given a serious look during his rookie season and wasn't afforded the opportunity to get much-needed reps in the D-League. Now he falls further down the depth chart and, with the NBA Summer League cancelled as a result of a potential lockout, he won't get a chance to prove himself there, either.

And there now may be a rush for the Knicks to make a decision before it locks in. According to Rautins' contract, his contract, with a salary of $788,872 for 2011-12, becomes fully guaranteed after July 31. If the NBA locks out its players when the current CBA expires on June 30, Rautins' contract could become guaranteed during the work stoppage.

It's really not a lot of money for the Knicks to eat if it does happen and they later decide to part ways with him (in fact, they spent almost as much to buy the second round pick that became Harrellson), but for bookkeeping purposes -- and considering the presence of Shumpert and the lack of a summer league -- it may be a decision to make before June 30. However, in 1999, teams were given a 10-day extension to make decisions on contracts that were guaranteed during the lockout so the same could be negotiated into the new CBA.

* - The coaching and scouting staff all have contracts that expire on June 30, but the lockout won't impact their ability to sign new deals. Teams can conduct internal business during a lockout, which means not only can Mike D'Antoni interview for a defensive assistant coach, but the Knicks can begin their search for Donnie Walsh's successor.


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