CHICAGO — Ben Wallace signed a four-year, $60 million contract Thursday with the Chicago Bulls after leaving the Detroit Pistons, the team he led to four straight conference finals and a championship.
The 6-foot-9 Wallace, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, will give the Bulls and their young nucleus an inside presence they lacked while being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two straight seasons.
Wallace made his decision to bolt the Pistons after a face-to-face meeting with general manager John Paxson and coach Scott Skiles. The Bulls, with room under the salary cap, also offered more money.
"I wasn't going to leave Detroit to go to a team that wasn't going to be a contender," Wallace said after he was introduced at a news conference.
"I'm glad to be part of a young, scrappy team."
Wallace ranked fourth in the NBA last season in rebounding (11.3), ninth in blocks (2.2) and 10th in steals (1.78) — the only player among the top 10 in all three categories.
The 31-year-old Wallace averaged 7.3 points this past season and has not averaged double digits in any of his 10 years in the league. Since beginning his career with the Washington Wizards, he has averaged 6.6 points and made 42 percent of his free throws.
MAGIC GIVE UP ON STEVENSON: The Orlando Magic signed guard Keith Bogans on Thursday, ending a bid to keep former Jazzman DeShawn Stevenson after the starting guard opted to test the free-agent market. The move gives rookie guard J.J. Redick a clearer shot at the starting lineup, though the former Duke standout is still recovering from a herniated disc in his back. The 6-foot-5 Bogans spent his rookie year with the Magic three seasons ago and most recently played for the Houston Rockets.
CELTICS, PIERCEAGREE: The Boston Celtics have agreed to terms with forward Paul Pierce on a three-year contract extension worth almost $60 million, according to a newspaper report. Terms of the extension, which is subject to league approval, weren't released, but the Boston Herald reported on its Web site that the deal will be for three years and almost $60 million. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss confirmed on Thursday that the team was talking to Pierce about an extension that would keep him in Boston beyond the 2007-08 season.
NEW SUNS SHARPSHOOTER:Eric Piatkowski became the latest in a long line of sharpshooters to join the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, signing a two-year, $2.3 million contract. The 12-year NBA veteran said he's prepared to fill any role, no matter how minor, for a team that believes it will be a title contender. "I'm not concerned with anything but winning. Whatever they want me to do, I'm fine with that," Piatkowski said. Piatkowski signed for the veteran's minimum of $1.1 million this season and $1.2 million next.
CLIPPERS SIGN PAIR: The Los Angeles Clippers signed free-agent forward Tim Thomas on Thursday and also agreed to terms with forward Paul Davis, their second-round draft pick. Thomas averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in nine seasons with Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York, Chicago and Phoenix. Davis averaged 13.2 points and seven rebounds during his four-year career at Michigan State.
BUCKNER BACK 'HOME':Greg Buckner sure wishes he'd kept the house he owned in Dallas a little bit longer. Buckner held onto the home he bought during his first stint with the Mavericks more than three years after he left the club, finally selling it in September. So after officially rejoining the Mavs on Thursday — signing a three-year deal that could be stretched to five — his first priority was finding somewhere new to live. "I always felt like Dallas was home for me," he said.
RAPTORS SIGN PARKER: The Toronto Raptors signed free-agent swingman Anthony Parker to a three-year, $12 million contract on Thursday. Parker returns to the NBA after playing six seasons overseas, including the last two where he was Euroleague MVP for Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv.