Knicks sign Rasheed Wallace

Updated: October 3, 2012, 6:31 PM ET
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The oldest team in the NBA just got a little older.

Veteran forward Rasheed Wallace officially has come out of retirement and signed with the New York Knicks, the team announced Wednesday.

According to a league source, Wallace signed a non-guaranteed contract for the veteran's minimum of $1.7 million.

Now, an important question remains -- just how much can Wallace give the Knicks? Coach Mike Woodson set the bar low for the 38-year-old veteran.

"It's not like we're looking at a player who's going to play a lot of minutes," Woodson said. "He's an insurance policy and (a) what-if.

"If he gets in and plays 5-10 minutes, we've got to hope it's the best 5-10 minutes to help us win basketball games. We've got enough guys on this team that we don't have to play guys a lot of minutes."

It has been two seasons since Wallace played in the NBA.

The 15-year veteran retired after spending the 2009-10 season with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics. Woodson reached out to Wallace about six months ago and started talking to him about a possible return.

Woodson has a solid history with the sometimes volatile power forward. Woodson was an assistant on Larry Brown's staff in Detroit in 2003-04, when the Pistons won the NBA title. Wallace played a key role on that team.

So after some coaxing from Woodson, Wallace decided in late August that he'd try to make a comeback with the Knicks. He first worked out for the team late last month and had been contemplating a return in recent days.

Wallace did not practice on Wednesday, and it is unclear when he will start participating in training camp workouts. The veteran was diplomatic when asked about his potential role with the team.

"I'm not expecting to come in here to average 25 points. I'm not expecting to come in here to average 35, 40 minutes," he said. "I'm not one to complain. I know I'm not the No. 1 guy here. I'm willing to accept my role."

Wallace is yet another veteran on a Knicks' roster full of them.

New York also has 39-year-old Jason Kidd, 38-year-old Marcus Camby and 39-year-old Kurt Thomas in tow and is the oldest team in the NBA.

In a best-case scenario for New York, Wallace will serve as a backup power forward to Amare Stoudemire. Widely known for his penchant for technical fouls (he set a single-season record with 41 in 2000-01), Wallace also is a strong post defender and can knock down the perimeter shot.

Wallace spent the bulk of his career with Portland and Detroit. He retired after his Finals run with the Celtics, leaving nearly $12 million in guaranteed money on the table. According to reports, Wallace was out of shape early in his season with Boston, but seemed to get into form as the year continued.

After spending two years away from the game, it's unclear when exactly Wallace will be in shape to take the floor for the Knicks.

New York views the move as a low-risk, high-reward proposition, thinking that Wallace will be in shape later in the season and can contribute during the playoffs.

Wallace said on Wednesday said that he'd be ready to take the court on Nov. 1, when the Knicks open the season against the Brooklyn Nets. Woodson, however, wasn't so sure.

"I don't know if he still has it yet," Woodson said, adding that he won't know "until he gets out here and he starts working and playing. Only time will tell."

Team brass wanted to surround the core of Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony with veterans. It's clear they are in win-now mode. On Monday, Woodson said the team had a "legitimate shot" to win an NBA title.

That's one of the main reasons Wallace decided to sign -- to join a team that he felt was ready to win this season.

"Definitely," he said. "Not just to win a certain amount of games -- to win it all. That's what we're shooting for."

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