TORONTO (AP) _ The Toronto Raptors have claimed seven-foot center Vladimir Stepania off waivers from the New York Knicks.

The European certainly fills a need for Toronto. Rookie Garth Joseph and veteran Kevin Willis are the club's only two healthy centers with Alex Radojevic (back surgery) and Michael Stewart (knee surgery) both out.

Stepania, a native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, was scheduled to join the Raptors in time for their exhibition road game against Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Stepania was selected in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft by the Seattle Supersonics. He played in 23 games with the Sonics last season, his second in the NBA, averaging 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds.

Stepania was dealt to New York on Sept. 20 as part of the four-team trade that saw Patrick Ewing land in Seattle.

With the addition of Stepania, the Raptors' roster is at 18. The team has until Monday to pare it down to 12 plus three players on the injured list.