The New York Knicks coaching staff would like to sign Earl Barron, but team management is not in any rush to do so, according to a source close to the veteran free-agent center.
"The Knicks coaches want Earl, but ownership wants to wait," the source told Bleacher Report.
A second source familiar with the Knicks' free-agency plans confirmed they are interested in Barron, 32, who appeared in seven games (six starts) for the Knicks in 2009-10, averaging 11.7 points and 11.0 rebounds over 33.1 minutes. Last season—while he only played in one regular-season game for the Knicks, an 11-point, 18-rebound performance on April 17 against the Atlanta Hawks—the source said he impressed Knicks coach Mike Woodson during his short stint.
"I think Mike Woodson likes him a lot because of the professionalism he showed this year," the source said recently. "He went from a vacation—a weekend trip with his family—to flying into D.C., drove to the airport and flew to New York and got in at midnight. He worked out for the coaches at 6 o'clock that morning, took the physical after that and then played 36 minutes that same night, and he had almost 20 boards. Earl kept his body right."
Two other sources familiar with the Knicks' free-agency plans said they're not sure what the team is planning to do with its last three roster spots for the regular season. The Knicks have 12 players under guaranteed contracts for 2013-14.
One of the likely reasons why the Knicks are not all in agreement on signing Barron is that they're still evaluating other centers—one of whom is Hamed Haddadi, who worked out for the Knicks last month.
"Still not finalized with Hamed. Hope/expect to get closure this week," a source close to Haddadi said via text message. "Don't think it will be New York, but not done."
In addition, the Knicks worked out veteran centers Cole Aldrich and DeSagana Diop on Monday and Tuesday as part of a two-day minicamp featuring 10 training camp hopefuls. Justin Brownlee, Josh Powell and Ricky Davis, who is attempting a comeback after playing in the NBA from 1998 to 2010, were also in attendance. Per NBA rules, teams can bring in up to 20 players for the preseason.
Terrence Jennings, who played on the Knicks' summer league team in Las Vegas, could also end up on the preseason squad.
"The Knicks do like him and we are hoping for an invite to training camp," a source close to Jennings said. "And we know that he is welcomed back to (the) Erie (BayHawks)."
While the Knicks signed Jeremy Tyler, 22, to a two-year, non-guaranteed contract, he will miss approximately eight more weeks recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot. Overall, the team could still use a seasoned backup center like the 7'0" Barron, a solid rebounder and rim protector who could play key minutes off the bench depending on the matchup. That's especially true for when the Knicks face the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers, who both upgraded their frontcourts this offseason.
Meanwhile, Barron worked out for the Utah Jazz on Monday, and according to another source, "He shot the ball extremely well."
If the Jazz pursue Barron, the source close to the player said he'll make them the priority signing to put pressure on the Knicks.
"If (the Jazz) like him, Barron is not waiting on New York," the source said.