After three seasons out of the NBA, Emeka Okafor is hoping to make a comeback at some point this season, with the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat as prospective landing teams for him.
The Warriors have been in contact with Okafor over the last few months, monitoring his condition and improvement. He was in contact with them, the Cavs and the Heat last season, but eventually decided he’s still not ready to return. According to Okafor’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, he’s probably still a few months away from being ready to return, which means he might only back in 2017 as a midseason pickup for some team.
Assuming Okafor can still bring something to the floor, he wouldn’t be a bad signing. The 6’10 big man has always been a very good defensive presence under the basket, averaging 1.7 blocks per game and 9.9 boards, usually doing quite well on the offensive glass too. He averaged 12.3 points per game throughout his career, but anyone signing him is probably expecting 10-15 minutes of big man backup, some help on the boards and defense, not offensive ability in the paint.
Okafor last played in the 2012-2013 season for the Washington Wizards, averaging 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 26 minutes a night, playing in 79 games. He was traded days before the 2013-2014 season to the Phoenix Suns, but a herniated disc that was discovered in his neck before the season began kept him out of the entire year. His contract expired at the end of the 2013-2014 season, and he hit free agency, but missed the two following seasons.
The second overall pick in the 2004 draft (behind Dwight Howard), Okafor won rookie of the year in 2005 with the (then) Charlotte Bobcats. He played five seasons in Charlotte before being traded to the New Orleans (then) Hornets, playing three seasons there before another trade sent him to Washington. He made $89 million in his NBA career to this point, and in 2004, leading UConn to the national title, he won the Final Four most outstanding player award and a consensus All-American that year. He’ll be 34 in September, and has a bronze medal from the 2004 Olympic games.