Seeking to add some depth to their roster, the 76ers on Wednesday signed veteran big man Tony Battie.
According to multiple sources, the contract is a one-year deal for the veterans' minimum, which, for a player with 10-plus seasons like Battie, is worth approximately $1.4 million. The 34-year-old Battie, who will begin his 13th NBA season this year, is a 6-foot-11 forward-center known for his defense, rebounding, and hustle.
The Sixers needed bolstering in all those areas.
"We see Tony Battie as a player who can come in and give us additional depth in the frontcourt while also providing a valuable veteran presence for our younger players both on and off the court," Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement.
Battie said he chose the Sixers, who finished last season with a record of 30-52, over the Charlotte Bobcats, who already possessed frontcourt depth; he also said he had offers from four other NBA teams.
Battie appeared in only 15 games last season with the New Jersey Nets. For the Sixers, he'll likely play the role of mentor, helping develop a frontcourt that includes 22-year-old Spencer Hawes, recently acquired from the Sacramento Kings for center Samuel Dalembert, and 24-year-old Jason Smith.
"I've never been a guy who filled up the stat sheet," said Battie, who has career averages of 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. "I can bring a veteran presence and a veteran leadership."
With little free agent money available in recent summers - power forward Elton Brand and swingman Andre Iguodala are under contract for a combined $160 million - the Sixers have made a habit of acquiring journeyman big men: Stefanski signed Theo Ratliff and Donyell Marshall for the 2008-09 season and Primoz Brezec for the 2009-10 season.
"As we go through the season, I'll find my niche," said Battie, who mentioned setting screens and "doing the dirty work" as potential parts of his on-court role. Battie said he spoke to Doug Collins, the Sixers' new head coach, last week on the phone.
"If you guys know Doug, he's got everything under control," Battie said. "And I'm going to follow his lead."
Battie was selected No. 5 overall in the 1997 NBA draft by Denver, and has played for the Nuggets, the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic, and the Nets.
With Battie, the Sixers now have 14 players under contract for the 2010-11 season.