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Is Earl Barron the Answer for the New York Knicks 15th Roster Spot?

September 19th, 2013 at 8:00 AM
By Matt Agne

Would it surprise anyone if the New York Knicks filled their 15th roster spot with a backup center to play behind Tyson Chandler? What's more, would it surprise anyone if Glen Grunwald decided to sign Earl Barron to fill that spot? Most Knicks fans are looking at the remaining centers on the market and claim that Barron is the best option for New York. Considering his performances with the team during his two stints in Big Apple they might be right. However, that's something the Knicks aren't completely convinced about quite yet.

'New York Knicks' photo (c) 2009, Mike - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Knicks 101 readers know how the team has searched near and far for every possible center option on the open market. At this point it looks like the Knicks are out of the market for Hamed Haddadi

However, both Cole Aldrich and DeSagana Diop recently participated in a two-day mini-camp at the Knicks facility. It's unclear if the former 11th overall pick or the 12 year veteran impressed the coaching staff but clearly the front office felt they were worth a look.

Through this entire exhausting search, the one constant target all off-season has been Earl Barron. However, Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report reports the organization is split on the idea of signing Barron.

"The Knicks coaches want Earl, but ownership wants to wait," the source told Bleacher Report.

"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."

Despite the coaching staff's love for Barron it's clear that the front office wants to evaluate other centers on the market. It that wasn't the case he'd be signed already. That being said, other teams may not hesitate as much as New York has.

Could dragging their feet on a decision cost the Knicks their chance to bring Barron back to the Big Apple?

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.

Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork reports that five other NBA teams have invited Barron to training camp this fall but that he considers the Knicks his ideal landing spot.

"He wants to be back in New York. There has been a lot of interest, and that's with them and with them to us," the source said. "I think it's just going to be one of those wait situations, where I think the signing of Jeremy Tyler didn't really knock [Barron] out of it, but it slowed the process up for him for sure." 

"But Earl wants to be a Knick. He's waiting for the Knicks to pull the trigger. He thinks that the Knicks will have a chance to win a championship, and he wants to be a part of it." 

The question is, will the Knicks pull the trigger and bring Barron or in continue with their search? Perhaps they'll just invite a few centers to training camp. Maybe they'll see if Barron would be interested in a training camp invite. At this point it's hard to tell if the team even knows what it will do.

The source said it's "hard to tell" what move the Knicks will make next. 

"I don't know what they're searching for," he said. "I do know that a lot of the Knicks' brass wants Earl there."

Clearly the hold up is the perception that the Knicks may be investing in fools-gold by signing Barron. While he was very impressive in his two stints with the Knicks he's been very under-whelming everywhere else he's been during his NBA career.

The Knicks may have 16 players under contract, but only 12 of those contracts are fully guaranteed. C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler have small guarantees and Chris Smith and Toure Murry only have training camp invites so the team is keeping an open mind while looking at available free agents. For example, the team could theoretically bring both Aldrich and Barron into training camp without any negative affect on their roster.

'Earl Barron and Brendan Haywood' photo (c) 2007, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ What the final decision is remains to be seen. It's easy to see how the coaching staff could respect Barron for staying in shape, having a sound offensive game, showing rebounding skills and doing what he's asked to do when the team needs him to. However, it's also understandable that the front office would be concerned with what Barron the team would be spending money on.

After all, in his time with New York he's put up some very impressive numbers. However, they were always towards the end of the season against NBA scrubs. During the rest of his career Barron's numbers where nowhere near the numbers New York has seen during his two stints in orange and blue.

What's clear is, there's been talks about and with Barron. Lots of them. Sooner or later the Knicks are going to have to make a decision about if they want Barron on their roster this upcoming season. That is, unless he makes their decision for them and signs elsewhere like Utah first. After all, if he can get a guaranteed contract elsewhere he'd be foolish to wait for New York to make up their minds.

What would you do if you were Glen Grunwald? Would you see if Barron might accept a camp invite so you could take a further look at him? Would you sign him outright and prevent him from going elsewhere like with the Jazz? Would you pass on him all together and go with someone else like Aldrich or Haddadi? These are not easy questions but that's why Grunwald gets paid so well. Hopefully he'll be able to come up with a decision before Barron decides he's waited long enough and makes the decision for himself, getting a contract elsewhere.

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Tags: Basketball, Cole Aldrich, DeSagana Diop, Earl Barron, Glen Grunwald, Hamed Haddadi, Mike Woodson, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz

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