When new Knicks guard Roger Mason Jr. was at the University of Virginia he majored in architecture; now he says he wants to be a building block on a playoff team in New York.

In his first official appearance as a Knick since signing a one-year, $1.4-million deal on Tuesday, Mason, a seven-year NBA veteran, said he signed because he wanted to help "get the Knicks back to the playoffs."

"The excitement for me of coming here was the opportunity to play in the playoffs," Mason told Newsday after speaking to kids attending the Knicks' basketball camp at the Brearley School Field House in Manhattan. "I've been in the playoffs the last four years in a row and it's appealing as a free agent to come to a place that you think you have an opportunity for that. And based on the personnel moves they've made, I think we have the opportunity."

Mason is the latest in a flurry of free-agent moves and trades that have brought Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph and Raymond Felton among others to New York.

"I see myself walking into an opportunity really, where [they] haven't had a lot of success here, but there's a bunch of new guys," he said. "I think that it takes time with [Mike] D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh coming here. But I think that now, hopefully, we'll start seeing some of the work that they've been doing."

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Despite his seven-year tenure in the league, Mason has certainly been around, playing for Chicago, Toronto, Washington and San Antonio. The 6-5 guard averaged 6.3 points with the Spurs last season, and averages 7.2 points and 19.2 minutes for his career.

Mason, who will turn 30 in September, said several teams, including New Orleans and Miami, courted him, but that he wanted to be a Knick almost from the outset.

"Honestly, I am playing for the team I wanted to play for," Mason told the campers. "When free agency started, I said the one team I would make the biggest difference on would be the Knicks."

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He also talked about the appeal of playing in front of a New York crowd.

"I think the biggest thing here is they appreciate guys that really give it their all," he said. "And that's what I'm coming in here trying to do. I'm just going to give it my all every second that I'm out there, and I think true basketball fans will respect that."

The Dolan family owns

controlling interests in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.