Emeka Okafor plans to sign 10-day contract with New Orleans Pelicans


emeka-okaforAfter suffering career-threatening back issues, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor is planning to sign a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, NBA sources told Yahoo Sports.

Okafor, 35, last played for the Washington Wizards in 2013, when he suffered a herniated disk injury and underwent multiple years of rehabilitation.

The 6-foot-10 center has worked out for teams over the past couple years, but signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in training camp and has played for their G League affiliate in Delaware this season.

In 26 games for Delaware, Okafor averaged 6.9 points, eight rebounds and 19.9 minutes per game. For New Orleans, the decision to pivot toward Okafor came after the team changed course on a 10-day deal with five-year NBA veteran Terrence Jones.

Around the NBA, including with Delaware, Okafor has a reputation as a strong worker and high-character professional.

Okafor averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 26.0 minutes per game for the Washington Wizards in 2012-13. The Wizards, knowing he was likely out for the entire 2013-14 campaign, used the defensive-minded big man’s $14.5 million expiring contract just days before the start of the 2013-14 to acquire Marcin Gortat from Phoenix.

Okafor’s career numbers are impressive: the big man played for the Charlotte (New Orleans) Hornets almost his entire career, and spent one season with Washington. He averaged double-figures in scoring and rebounds in his first 5 seasons in the NBA.

Okafor, so far, played in 590 NBA games (started 584), averaging 12.3 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 1.7 bpg in 31.7 mpg.

Okafor has missed four full NBA seasons. He never appeared in a game after leaving the Wizards in the trade that brought Marcin Gortat to Washington.

The second overall pick in the 2004 draft, Okafor was the 2004-05 rookie of the year. For much of his career, durability was his calling card. He did not miss a game in three straight seasons from 2007-10.

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