Amid their search for a young big man who could provide interior scoring rebounding and defense the Knicks are having discussions with free agent Ivan Johnson a player source told

The 29-year-old Johnson who became an NBA player in 2011 and has played for the Hawks was initially campaigning for a mini mid-level contract. But with remaining attractive free agents like DeJuan Blair and Antawn Jamison in the veteran's minimum financial ballpark -- Blair signed with the Mavericks for that amount -- the free-agent market is quickly changing.

"I think the mini mid-level will be tough to get at this time" the source said.

So it's likely that the 6-8 255-pound Johnson will be financially accessible to the Knicks. The question is: could it mutually work out?

The source said "I think it would be a great fit for Ivan to get big minutes [in New York] and further prove he can play in this league."

Johnson is known for his high motor finishing ability and being a tenacious defender who has good hands and timing to deflect balls and grab rebounds. Sometimes however he can be a little out of control. In 2012 the Hawks fined him for "conduct detrimental to the team" and later for making an obscene gesture.

Johnson could bring versatility to the Knicks' frontcourt. Carmelo Anthony is still mostly an outside facilitator even when he's at the 4 position; Amar'e Stoudemire will play limited minutes because of his surgically-repaired knees; Tyson Chandler missed 16 games last season and is now one year older and needs more support; Andrea Bargnani only played 66 games in his past two injury-riddled seasons; and Kenyon Martin has had serious injury issues in the past and he's turning 36 this December.

Johnson can play forward and center which would fill a need for the Knicks.

"That would be a nice get for the Knicks" another source said. "I like him."

Another big man the Knicks had "strong interest" in according to a player source was Kris Humphries -- if the Celtics carried out their potential plan to buy him out. Humphries was also interested in playing for the veteran's minimum in New York. But a source familiar with Humphries said a buyout is unlikely at this point as the Celtics who acquired Humphries in the Kevin Garnett Paul Pierce and Jason Terry trade this summer envision a key role for him next season.