Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

Jordan to Serbia, Barron back on Broadway?

 Second-round big man Jerome Jordan is close to finalizing a contract to play in Serbia this season, as reported here (you may need google translation) and picked up elsewhere. I spoke to a few Knicks people who confirmed Jordan will head to Serbia and therefore will not be in training camp next month.  

Jordan, the 7-foot project from Tulsa, showed some flashes during the NBA Summer League in July and the Knicks feel he has potential to be a quality, athletic big man in the NBA. The team retains his rights as long as they want him, so the move to Serbia isn't a terrible disappointment. In fact, it's a good situation for Jordan, who will turn 24 in September and, by playing overseas, will get playing time that he needs to continue to develop his game. On the current Knicks roster, Jordan would be buried on the depth chart behind centers such as Ronny Turiaf, Timofey Mozgov and, yes, even Eddy Curry, plus other bigs who can play the five, such as Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony Randolph.

Jordan would either wind up a practice player or in the D-League, though so far the Knicks haven't used the D-League as an alternative to getting young players much-needed PT. I haven't seen the contract with the Serbian team so I can't tell you if the money is also a good reason to go. Personally, I would prefer to keep Jordan in the States and playing NBA-style basketball in the D-League, but it does cost the Knicks a roster spot and a few precious bucks in cap space.

Speaking of which, of the other of the Knicks' second-round picks from this year's draft,Andy Rautins was already signed to his rookie contract and, from what I'm told, Landry Fields isn't too far behind. This is typically the time of the year for the NBA when front office staffers go on vacation, so paperwork sometimes takes a little longer to complete. But Fields will be in camp with the Knicks and, most likely, signed to a contract.

Meanwhile, with Jordan out, I know some of you Barronites will immediately ask about Earl Barron, who has an amazing cult-like following of Knicks fans after playing just seven games with the team at the end of the season and averaging 11.7 points and 11 boards. Barron, who last week turned 29, remains unsigned. The Knicks renounced his rights last week, according to the website, ShamSports.com, but that was likely for bookkeeping purposes to clear up cap space to sign someone who makes the team after camp ends. If he doesn't have better offers, Barron can get a camp invite and if he makes the team, can sign another vets min.

The Knicks are right now compiling a list of players to invite to training camp, where the team expects to carry about 17-18 players. Barron could get an invite, if he doesn't get a better offer elsewhere (why wouldn't the Miami Heat sign this guy for the minimum? They desperately need size, skill and depth at center and he can provide it), perhaps Barron comes in on an invite. 

There will be other names on the list of camp invitees, of course. Hoopsworld reported last week that Maurice Ager was expected to sign a contract with the Knicks. What I'm told is he is among players who are likely to get camp invites, which usually come with non-guaranteed contracts that lock in if a player makes the final roster.

Fans get excited this time of year when they hear recognizable names late in the offseason. Remember former Celtic Gabe Pruitt was a camp invitee last year, as was former Laker Sun Yue. Right now the Knicks pretty much know who they are and most of the positions and even the rotation is written in pencil. 

What I know is this: if you're filling out a roster, you want to bring in character players who will strengthen your locker room and keep practices poppin' through the Dog Days of the season (January). But not someone who will draw the tape recorders after a 43-point win to gripe because he didn't play.

Those days -- and that attitude -- have to be over and done with.

 

Tags: NBA , Knicks , Jerome Jordan , Earl Barron , Andy Rautins , Landry Fields , Maurice Ager

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