The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent center Theo Ratliff, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.  Per team policy terms of the contract were not released.

“I’ve had a long and very rewarding career, and joining a storied and legendary franchise such as the Lakers adds an even more special element,” Ratliff said.  “I look forward to playing for Coach Jackson and with great players such as Kobe, Derek, Pau, Lamar, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum and all my other new teammates, and hopefully to helping the Lakers win a third straight championship.”

Ratliff, a 15-year NBA veteran, appeared in 49 games (29 starts) last season with the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Bobcats, averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.24 blocks in 16.4 minutes.  Acquired from the Spurs on February 18, Ratliff started 26-of-28 games with Charlotte, averaging 5.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.54 blocks while finishing the season ranked 12th league-wide in blocks per 48 minutes (3.63).

“Theo has long been considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the league,” said Kupchak.  “He is a consummate professional and a welcome addition to our team.  Together with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Artest, he gives us a formidable and deep front line.”

Originally selected by the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft (18th overall), Ratliff has twice been named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1999 and 2004), has led the league in blocked shots three times (2000-01, 2002-03 and 2003-04) and is one of seven players in NBA history to capture the blocked shots title three or more times.  Voted the starting center in the 2001 NBA All-Star Game, Ratliff ranks 18th in NBA history in career blocked shots (1,963) and owns career averages of 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.45 blocks and 25.5 minutes in 800 games.

Dec 31, 2008; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Theo Ratliff (5) during the 76ers' 100-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom