Free agent center Emeka Okafor is expected to delay his comeback from a neck injury until next season, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. Okafor has not played since 2012-13 while recovering from a herniated desk in his neck. According to Stein, the 32-year-old is "healthy," but remains reluctant to rush back from injury this season. He was being pursued by numerous teams in desperate need for a rim protector.
Looking to replace recently traded center Brandan Wright, the Mavericks are targeting centers Jermaine O'Neal and Emeka Okafor, reports ESPN Dallas. Wright was the first backup to center Tyson Chandler with Greg Smith also under consideration to fill Wright's previous role. Okafor has not played since 2012-13 while recovering from a herniated desk in his neck. O'Neal played for the Warriors last season and averaged 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds.
The Phoenix Suns have emerged as a possible trade suitor for Lakers center Pau Gasol, according to ESPN's Marc Stein on Sunday. The Lakers nearly traded Gasol to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum before talks broke down in early January. With Los Angeles looking to avoid the league's luxury-tax threshold, a deal involving Gasol for injured center Emeka Okafor's expiring contract could leave them only less than $3 million away from the threshold. Okafor has not played a game this season, as he continued to recover from neck surgery. Gasol averaged 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds in January, but is expected to miss at least a week of action because of a strained right groin.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld told CSNWashington.com Saturday that the state of center Emeka Okafor's neck injury accelerated the team's desire to acquire another big man. After trading Okafor to the Suns for Marcin Gortat, Grunfeld gave a bit more information about the extent of the injury. "If Emeka didn't have the (injury) it probably wouldn't have been as imperative for us to get another big man in there. We don't know what his status will be," Grunfeld said. "Emeka was very frustrated with his situation. There's really no timetable for him. Probably if Emeka was healthy it probably wouldn't have been as important for us to get another big man." Okafor is dealing with a herniated disc, and is officially listed as out indefinitely. The report indicates that Okafor is unlikely to be back on the court before the end of the calendar year, and he would still have to get into playing shape. Okafor could ultimately miss half the season while recovering.
The Suns have agreed to trade power forward Marcin Gortat, guard Shannon Brown, guard Malcolm Lee and guard Kendall Marshall to the Wizards for center Emeka Okafor and a first-round pick in the 2014 draft -- which is protected to No. 12, according to an ESPN report Friday. Gortat averaged 7.7 points and 6.7 rebounds through seven preseason games. Okafor has not played this preseason and is likely to miss the start of the season due to a herniated disc in his neck. He remains hopeful of avoiding surgery.
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