Shane Larkin of the Knicks controls the ball in the...

Shane Larkin of the Knicks controls the ball in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on Oct. 30, 2014 in Cleveland. Credit: Getty Images / Jason Miller

As the son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, Knicks point guard Shane Larkin is no stranger to being in the company of big-name sports stars.

He's just not used to playing against them.

Oft-injured and little-used in his rookie season with Dallas, Larkin has more than held his own as the Knicks' emergency starter after Jose Calderon was scratched an hour before Wednesday night's season opener against the Bulls.

Larkin matched up with former MVP Derrick Rose in that game. Then it was Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers in LeBron James' return to Cleveland.

The Knicks lost the first game and won the second. Larkin has held on to his spot and will start again Sunday night when former UConn star Kemba Walker and Charlotte visit the Garden. On Tuesday, John Wall and the Washington Wizards will pay a visit.

"Those are all All-Star-caliber guys," Larkin said Saturday, "so as a second-year guy coming off an up-and-down rookie season with a [leg] injury being able to be thrown into that type of fire and just go out there and play, it's a great experience for me.

"Going against some of the top players in the league, it's just going to make me better, and that's what I want to do, keep getting better in this league. So it's a great opportunity for me."

Coach Derek Fisher chose Larkin over veteran Pablo Prigioni once he learned on opening night that Calderon had reinjured a calf strain that plagued him in the preseason. Calderon is expected to miss two to three weeks.

Larkin is averaging 7.5 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 turnovers in his first two games as a Knick.

"Shane has been really good for us," Fisher said. "To think about a young guy that didn't have a preseason or a training camp last year, misses a lot of games, gets traded over the summer, new team, new coach, new way of playing basketball, 10 minutes before opening night finds out that he's the starting point guard for the New York Knicks, that's a lot.

"And he has handled himself extremely well. He has been good for our team, not just controlling the basketball and making solid decisions but defensively being scrappy and aggressive out there. We are fortunate to have him and we are looking forward to him getting better as time goes on."

That's not to say the Knicks are committed to Larkin as time goes on. On Friday, they declined to pick up his $1.68- million third-year option. So Larkin will be a restricted free agent after the season.

"That's a business deal," Larkin said. "Obviously, they want to build a championship team here and they need as much money as they can next summer to be able to bring in the big free agents that they're looking at. It's not like they told me, 'We don't see you as part of our future, we don't want you.' If that was the case, I'd be sitting on the bench. So obviously, they want to see what I have. That's what I'm doing. Going out there playing as hard as I can with the opportunity presented to me, and we'll see what happens."


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