The wait for Glen Grunwald to fill the New York Knicks 15th roster spot has gone on for nearly three weeks now. Even though it's just the final spot on the roster fans have grown quite restless over it because the team doesn't appear to have a true center to backup Tyson Chandler. However, the free agent market could push the Knicks to make their decision sooner than later.
The New York Knicks have talked to several free agent big men about filling their final roster spot but haven't pulled the trigger on signing any of them. Reportedly, the plan was to wait and see what Ivan Johnson chose to do. The Knicks couldn't offer him more than the veteran's minimum and he's really more a power forward than a center but Johnson is an excellent rebounder and could have been a nice addition to the team. However, Johnson didn't like the offers he garnered from NBA teams and instead chose to sign with China's Zhejiang Golden Bulls.
Now that Johnson is no longer an option who will the Knicks turn to? One popular target is two-time Knicks' center Earl Barron. Barron's NBA career has been very under whelming but his hustle, high motor and good numbers at the end of two separate seasons in New York make him intriguing. When you combine that with the fact the center options on the free agent market are very slim, Barron has a market.
While the Knicks have kept Barron's hopes up of landing a contract it's always been clear that he's been their fall-back option. That tact may cost them his services. The Knicks, although Barron's preferred landing spot, are not the only team looking into signing him.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork reports Barron has drawn interest from a handful of other teams besides the Knicks.
Source: In addition to the Knicks, the Pacers, Pelicans and Sixers are interested in Earl Barron.
There are rumors that Barron is hoping to re-sign with the Knicks after Labor Day which is Monday, September 2. If they truly intend to keep Barron around they would have to move quickly to do so.
Barron spent time with the Washington Wizards last season before joining the Knicks. He averaged 3.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 12 overall contests.
Another center in the mix is Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi. Since being released by the Phoenix Suns two months ago the Knicks have almost been the only team showing interest in Haddadi. However, it now seems that New York isn't the only club with interest in Haddadi's services.
Sources: Hamed Haddadi had a workout w/ Pelicans. Earl Barron's reps are hoping for #Knicks deal after Labor Day. NYK are Earl's top choice.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) August 28, 2013
Haddadi is 28 years old and finished last season strong after being traded from the Toronto Raptors at the deadline with the Suns, averaging 4.1 points and 5.1 rebounds over 13.8 minutes per game in 17 contests for Phoenix.
Another option could be a former NBA lottery pick. Cole Aldrich was selected 11th overall by the New Orleans Hornets in the 2010 draft. Three summers later, Aldrich is still looking for an NBA job late into the off-season.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork reports Aldrich may also be an option for the Knicks.
Aldrich has drawn interest from a handful of teams and has planned workouts with teams. It's unclear if the Knicks will bring him in for a look or not. Despite his offensive futility, Aldrich has promise as a rebounder and shot blocker and could fit in as an end of the rotation player in Mike Woodson's system.
That being said, Aldrich's numbers during his three NBA seasons haven't been impressive. That being said, his minutes have been quite limited but probably for a reason. In his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings he was only able to average 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds over 7.9 minutes per game in 89 contests.
Clearly there's a few ways the Knicks can go. What's clear is, the team is clearly targeting a center to fill in minutes when Chandler comes off the floor. Jared Zwerling has heard that the team may go with an inexperienced player instead of one of the players named above.
That would seem like an odd decision considering the team's big men depth at the moment. While the Knicks have a lot of power forwards they aren't exactly reliable ones. Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani both have major injury concerns. Kenyon Martin has an injury past as well and his effectiveness over a long season is questionable. On top of that, Jeremy Tyler rounds out the group and is still raw, young and relatively inexperienced as well.
You'd think it would be more wise to add someone with experience. Keith Schlosser of KnicksJournal believes that's exactly what the Knicks will do.
It's easy to understand from most recent workouts that perhaps the Knicks aren't going to try bringing in another young gun to fill out the roster. They've already taken chances (and perhaps had their fill of such talents) with players like Tyler and Leslie.
With that in mind, the fifteenth man on New York's roster is likely to be a previously injured player on the comeback trail, a guy with more international experience, etc. It'll be someone who comes cheap, but still has some experience and/or creditability under their belt to speak of. The team would benefit from a low-risk, high-reward, type player.
The one thing that we know is that the Knicks aren't leaving any stone unturned in looking for the final player to fill their roster. When you start seeing reports of New York working out players like Gary Forbes and Sean May it becomes clear that the front office is searching both far and wide.
Some would say that the 15th roster spot doesn't matter and they may be right most of the time but not on this season's Knicks team. This 15th spot isn't just a practice body or even a young player with promise like Tyler. This 15th spot will represent the only true center backup behind Chandler on the entire roster.
Will they be used as the second center? That remains to be seen. You'd think Woodson would use his deep power forward core to fill in minutes behind Chandler. That being said, the team would likely expect a solid 10 minutes or so out of their reserve center even if they filled in most of the needed backup minutes with their power forward depth.
Arguments could be made for all of these players. They all bring something to the court. Some are more offensive, some are more defensive. Some have more NBA experience, some have more overseas experience. Others have upside and just haven't been given much of a chance in their NBA careers.
No matter who the Knicks may decide to bring in, Johnson's decision to sign in China will likely cause that decision to be made sooner than later. Who would you like to see the Knicks sign? Is there someone else who hasn't been mentioned who the Knicks should look into? Is Grunwald being diligent or is he taking too long making a decision?
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