The Knicks and free-agent center Earl Barron, who joined the team late last season, have strong mutual interest, according to a source close to the player.
"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."
While the Knicks signed Tyler, 22, to a two-year, non-guaranteed contract, they still could 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 Nets and Pacers, who both upgraded their frontcourt. Overall, the group of serviceable big men available is slim.
The source said five other NBA teams have invited Barron to training camp this fall, but the Knicks remain the priority. In fact, both sides have met "a couple of times already" this summer, according to the source.
Barron, 32, 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 Hawks -- the source said he impressed 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. "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."
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."
New York Knicks
On Wednesday at the Knicks' training facility, Woodson commented on how the team might fill the remaining roster spot, saying, "I don't know. Most teams kind of wait late. ... If somebody falls through the cracks, it might give us an opportunity to snatch another body."
For most of the summer, Barron has been working out in Washington, D.C., with Dan Connelly, the younger brother of NBA executives Pat and Tim who is an advance scout for the Jazz. Barron has been in the gym a few times with Wizards center Emeka Okafor.
The source said Barron will not pursue another deal, including overseas, until he has clear direction from the Knicks. Barron is open to the veteran's minimum, which is all the team can offer.
"Earl just wants to play," the source said. "He just wants to be a part of a winning situation. He was on a championship team with the Miami Heat. He's been around. He's a serviceable veteran, but he's more of a great locker-room guy."