PARIS -- When you're young, single and in Paris, it's important to get your priorities straight. For instance, one of the first things you do is ask the nice woman at the hotel's reception desk to teach you a few helpful phases in French to get you though a walk around town.
She starts off with the usual: Bonjour, (Hello), Merci (Thank you) and Comment vas-tu (How are you?).
But the woman -- perhaps noting that she is talking to young, single men -- was quick to offer additional advice. In case you wanted to speak with, say, a female (ahem...it is Fashion Week here)....
"You have to be more formal and say Comment allez-vous," Andy Rautins explained, "as opposed to tu."
Actually, Rautins -- who pointed out that he once lived in France when he was an enfant and his father, Leo, was playing professionally -- pronounced it "Como tall-ay, voo."
And he did it with a straight face.
"That's the lesson we got yesterday," Rautins said after Tuesday's practice here. "Hopefully we'll pick up more stuff today."
To their credit, Rautins and Landry Fields have been soaking up as much of the culture has they can both here and while the team was in Milan. The two rookies spent Monday, for instance, exploring the magnificence that it the Louvre. "It," Fields said, "was awesome."
When wandering this city of trend-setting fashion, the Americans are obvious for many reasons: Find the overweight people with baggy pants, sneakers and a fanny pack and chances are, they'll greet your English with a relieved, "Howyadoin!" (To which Rautins may reply, "Como tall-ay, voo!")
The idea is to do it like Gallinari, who strolled from the hotel to have lunch in custom fit designer jeans, a long-sleeve polo and dark-rimmed glasses with his hair gelled to look purposely unkempt. It was as if someone left a copy of Vogue for Men open on the coffee table and he peeled himself off the page. All he was missing was a scarf, just for the hell of it. Like Amar'e wears.
"We try to dress as Euro as we can," Fields says with a laugh.
"Skinny jeans," Rautins adds.
Both of them are making earnest attempts at sporting a trendy doo. In fact, Rautins had a hell of a faux-hawk and in Syracuse it was famous. It even had it's own Twitter account for a while. Fields is a little more modest on the dome, but there's evidence of an attempt. Still, despite the clothes, the hairstyles and the Spanish-French hybrid language, they admittedly aren't doing a good job of blending in.
"We definitely look like tourists," Fields says, "because we always have maps."
Doesn't that sum up the rookie experience? The two are lucky because they can lean on each other and depend on each other and, of course, push each other to get through the baptism. After practice throughout this European trip, you'd often see them together, getting up extra shots and engaged in fierce competitions. Then they'll take a seat on the bench next to each other and crack jokes and discuss their plans for the day.
It's like watching Bert and Ernie, only slightly less creepy.
"This guy?" Fields says with a smirk as he points to Rautins, "I can't stand this guy. Hate 'em."
Seriously, which do you think is the one that sings "Rubber Duckie"?
Rautins was supposed to get some burn in Sunday's exhibition win over AJ Milano, but Mike D'Antoni admitted he stuck with his rotation guys mainly because he was "making sure we were going to win the game." Wednesday here against the Timberwolves, there is more emphasis on giving everyone a look and working with various combinations of players. Rautins has two veterans ahead of him at the point guard spot in Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas. But he has shown he belongs at this level, with an above-average basketball IQ and a good outside touch. They're trying to make him a point guard and that will take a little time.
Fields, who has raised many eyebrows with his heady, very confident play in camp so far, did get minutes (10:31, three points, 0-3 FG, 3-4 FT), which says a lot about D'Antoni's interest in the rookie. Fields admitted he was surprised by the pace of the pro game. "It was a lot faster than I expected," he said.
There's enough reason to believe both will catch on and, who knows, maybe remain friends -- and teammates -- for a long time.
"We hope to be the future of the team," Rautins says. "So we want to be there for each other and hopefully build this thing from the ground up."
In the last 12 drafts, there have been four times when the Knicks have made two second round picks. In 2003, they had Maciej Lampe (the Polish Magic Johnson) and Slako Vranes (the 7-6 kid from Montenegro), in 2001 there as Michael Wright (Arizona) and Eric Chenoweth (Kansas), in 2000 there was Lavor Postell (St. John's) and Pete Mickeal (Cincinnati) and in 1998 there was DeMarco Johnson (UNC-Charlotte) and Sean Marks (Cal).
OK Fixers: pop quiz, when was the last time the Knicks drafted two players in the second round and both made the final cut that same year?