Rasheed Wallace signs with Knicks

Rasheed Wallace of the Boston Celtics warms up Rasheed Wallace of the Boston Celtics warms up before Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2010

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rasheed Wallace thought he retired for good two years ago, but his relationship with Mike Woodson and desire "to win it all" brought him back to the NBA.

Wallace, 38, signed with the Knicks for the $1.7 million veteran's minimum Wednesday, citing his friendship with Woodson as a big reason. The two won the NBA championship in 2004 with Detroit, where Woodson was an assistant coach. Wallace hopes they enjoy similar success together with the Knicks, but LeBron James and Miami still stand in the way.

"It's not about the Heat," Wallace said. "It's about us. We're trying to go after that golden ball and I think they definitely have the opportunity to do that.

"From what I've seen over the last few weeks there's good guard play. We've got about four, five seven-footers. It's going to be tough to beat us. And once we all get together on the same page with Coach Woodson we'll be all right."

Wallace, who also played for Washington, Portland, Atlanta and Boston, retired in 2010 for personal reasons. He said Woodson reached out to him about six months ago to see if he wanted to come back.

The four-time All-Star had been playing pickup games at the University of North Carolina, in some pro-ams and with his teenage sons. But in August Wallace decided he wanted to return and started increasing his workouts. He joined the Knicks in late September for pickup games and Thursday should be his first official practice with them.

"I said to myself, well if I do this I can't go in half-stepping and slouching," Wallace said. "I have to go ahead and give it 100 percent and give it an honest try."

Wallace, who said Larry Brown was the only other coach he would have un-retired for, expects to be able to play in the Knicks' regular-season opener Nov. 1 against the Nets.

Wallace should give the Knicks toughness and depth at the backup power forward and center positions.

Woodson was cautiously optimistic that Wallace can be a factor after two years away from the NBA. But Woodson also said Wallace would play limited minutes, called him "insurance," and sees his signing as low-risk, high-reward.

"If he [still] has it, it starts on the defensive end. He's a presence defensively," Woodson said. "If he's got anything left offensively he can make a shot and stretch the floor. Only time will tell. "This is not something that's definite. It's an opportunity to look at him and see what he has left and if he does have something left it can be a positive for our ballclub."

Wallace, who was called for an NBA-record 41 technicals in 2000-01, said he'll still be "fiery" as a player, but not as hotheaded.

"I'm calmed down now," Wallace said. "I'm too old for that."

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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