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Veteran center Earl Barron with strong case to make Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX — The odds are stacked against Earl Barron, and he knows it. But he survived the first round of cuts, and there’s just one more round to go.

NBA rosters must be set by Oct. 27, meaning Barron, a seven-year veteran, should know by the weekend whether or not he’s done enough to open the 2014-15 season with the Phoenix Suns.

Teams can carry a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 15 players.

Currently, the Suns have 16 players on the roster, 15 of whom have guaranteed contracts. Barron is not one of those 15, yet with a week to go in the preseason, he remains.

“I’ve seen it done before,” he said, referring to his situation of trying to bump a player with a guaranteed deal off a final roster. “If you fit and if you’re showing that you can help the team win and you’re willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes, then I know coaches see things like that and they’ll make changes and make moves, but I’m just out here just playing hard and whatever happens, happens.”

In four preseason games, Barron, a seven-foot, 245-pound center, has totaled 20 points (8-of-13 FG) and 23 rebounds in 70 minutes. He posted a double-double at Houston on Oct. 13 with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

“The one guy that sticks out is really fighting for the team is Earl Barron,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s still on the roster for a reason. I know our guys are saying, hey, if he’s going to help us and we have to eat a contract somewhere, then I think (managing partner) Robert (Sarver) is willing to do that. If it’s going to help us win games and he’s better than another guy, Robert is all for it. He’s battling for one of those spots.”

Barring a trade to free up a roster spot, it would appear Barron, 33, is competing with 6-10 power forward Shavlik Randolph to make the team.

Randolph, 30, has played just 32 minutes in the preseason, missing one game because of a hyperextended right knee. He scored four points, grabbed eight rebounds and is owed $1.2 million after joining the Suns late last year.

“I know it’s a business,” Barron said. “Anything can happen.”

Barron has his own Suns ties.

Four years ago, he was signed after a knee injury sidelined Robin Lopez early in the 2010-11 season. He played 12 games, including six starts, and averaged 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes.

Over the next three seasons Barron made stops in Milwaukee, Portland, Golden State, Washington and New York. He did not play in the league last season.

Barron said he kept himself in shape and worked on his mid-range game.

“Last time I came (to the Suns) I was a little hesitant (to shoot),” he said. “I still had that opportunity and guys were telling me ‘shoot, shoot, you’re open, you’re open.’ But I just was hesitant, hesitant, hesitant a lot of the times. Steve (Nash) was here at the time and he’s making some amazing passes and I was just like caught off guard and wasn’t ready to shoot a lot. But now…I’ve been shooting the ball so well all summer and it’s just a matter of confidence; just taking the shot and in my head I think every time I shoot it’s going to go in if I get my feet set and I’m balanced I feel like every shot is going to go in.”

Familiarity with the area, style of play and some members of the staff, mainly the training staff, made for an easy decision by Barron to agree to return to the Suns; though how long this return lasts is the big unknown.

“Things have been going good so far,” he said. “I’ve got three more games to continue to prove that I deserve to be in the league or, if so be it, to be on this team.”