Langston Galloway called his family first, and not long after he made sure he shared his good news with Phil Martelli.

The Saint Joseph's University coach could hear the joy in his former player's voice. But Martelli knew Galloway wasn't satisfied that the Knicks signed him for the rest of this season. Playing in the NBA isn't the goal for Galloway. Staying in the NBA is.

"He was ecstatic and he should be," Martelli said. "He certainly saw it was a milestone in not just his basketball life but as a person. He saw it was monumental for him and his family.

"But his mission was never to be on an NBA team for a half a season. His mission was to make the NBA his career."

Galloway, 23, has made big strides in a short time.

The 6-2 point guard went from undrafted rookie to playing for the Knicks' D-League team in Westchester to now starting for the big club.

The Knicks' struggles opened the door for Galloway, the second-leading scorer in Saint Joseph's history behind Denver Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson, and he has parlayed two 10-day contracts into a deal that has a partial guarantee for next season.

"It's like seeing a fairy tale come true," Martelli said. "For him to be able to chase his dream, because it's not done, this is just the beginning of the journey. It makes you feel good."

Galloway plays hard, rebounds well for his size, and isn't afraid to take big shots.

Since becoming a starter eight games ago, Galloway has averaged 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists, and helped the Knicks to five wins. They won just five of their first 41 games.

"Langston can play," Carmelo Anthony said. "I don't think a lot of people know about him. But he can play basketball."

Galloway isn't the only reason for the Knicks' improved play. Anthony has played better since resting his left knee for two weeks, and the Knicks have faced weaker opponents. But the arrivals of Galloway, Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas have had an impact.

They originally signed 10-day contracts and played with a hunger the Knicks were missing. All were rewarded with deals that run through the end of the season. Galloway remains grounded, though, and knows he hasn't accomplished anything.

"I just got to continue to work and get better so I can continue to grow as a player," Galloway said. "I don't want to just be here and then go back down. I want to continue to get better and try and be one of the best one day."

Galloway has the right attitude because he's been on a long and winding road.

He made clutch baskets in wins over the Hornets, 76ers and Thunder, prompting Anthony to compare him to Jeremy Lin, who was unknown and unproven before showing a penchant for seizing the moment.

But the Knicks have dropped two of their last three, and Galloway has looked and played like a rookie in the losses.

Galloway shot 4-for-18 and totaled eight points in losses to the Pacers and Celtics. He used to beat himself up after such performances. But Martelli says Galloway has grown, and can move on and get ready for the next challenge.

"He knows he put in the work and he never questions that," Martelli said. "He's becoming less of his own worst critic and that certainly has helped him. The beauty of the kid is he never had all the answers. And we're raising a bunch of kids in society that have all the answers and they don't even know the questions -- and he's not like that."

The Knicks like that about Galloway. He works hard and is committed to learning and improving. His play has helped make veteran guards Jose Calderon and Pablo Prigioni expendable as their rebuild continues.

"He is not fearful of any moment," coach Derek Fisher said. "He plays with a confident toughness that has been really good for our group. The guys enjoy having him around because of who he is, his character and how he's built. Those are the type of guys we want to have around here as we build this thing out."

The Knicks will be active until the Feb. 19 trade deadline and in free agency. But they also need some young, inexpensive players on their team. Galloway could be carving out his spot.

A strong finish to the season could help him not only to stay with the Knicks but in the NBA.

"He has to know that he's on a stage in a play with very, very few people who can do that job," Martelli said. "There's a lot of people watching. You'd like it to be the true fairy tale where he blossoms in New York. But if that's not to be and he can blossom in the NBA because of his performances in New York then that's a really good thing, too."