Pacers rugged free agent defensive center Jeff Foster has become the Knicks’ top priority with their $5 million mid-level exception, and former team president Donnie Walsh can earn his consulting fee if he can convince Foster to leave Indiana.According to league sources, Walsh, who drafted Foster in 1999 for the Pacers when he traded for his rights, has pushed for the Knicks to sign the center, who has 5,206 career rebounds.Today, team executives are permitted to talk to free agents and make recruiting visits. Walsh still lives in Indianapolis as a Knicks consultant and will attempt to sell the merits of playing in New York. Jason Szenes HE’S ‘D’ MAN: Free-agent center Jeff Foster , who has played his entire 12-year NBA career with the Pacers, is being recruited by former Knicks president Donnie Walsh to come to New York. Foster, 34, is not making a recruiting visit to the Knicks. He was thought to be on his last legs as a health risk but boosted his play late last season and helped the Pacers earn a playoff spot.Foster desperately wants to stay in Indiana and indicated he may be willing to take less money, since he wants to finish his career with Indiana, where he has played 12 seasons. In a bad sign for the Knicks, Foster showed up at the Pacers’ practice facility to work out Thursday on the first day teams unlocked the doors.Foster made $6.7 million last season. The Knicks can outbid the Pacers on a one-year deal if they offer their $5 million mid-level exception. They appear to be willing to do so as long as they protect their 2012 space for the free-agent bonanza of Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.Foster, who had major back surgery during the 2009-10 season, was ranked second in the NBA last season to Howard in rebounding ratio, securing 6.3 boards in 20.7 minutes. He’s also a banger on the offensive boards, earning the reputation as one of the NBA’s most physical big men. It may be the best they can get for a one-year deal.The Knicks also like center Aaron Gray but feel he’ll likely accept a multi-year offer. The club is concerned Kurt Thomas prefers Chicago because the Bulls are perceived to be closer to winning a championship.The Knicks, after showing initial interest on Kwame Brown, have backed off. The Knicks also have explored using their mid-level on a small forward, perhaps Grant Hill or Anthony Parker.* Ex-Net Bostjan Nachbar is finalizing plans to work out for the Knicks Tuesday. As reported Saturday, the Knicks have only mild interest, even though Mike D’Antoni coached Nachbar with Benetton Treviso. … According to a source, Chris Paul’s visit to the Garden with New Orleans is Feb. 17, and ESPN will televise it. The Knicks will also make up November’s missed Lakers game in L.A. Dec. 29 on ESPN. … Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson, Landy Fields and Andy Rautins are expected at the team’s facility today for workouts, joining Carmelo Anthony and Toney Douglas.