It's been three years since big man Emeka Okafor last played in an NBA game. He was a member of the Washington Wizards and played nearly 10 minutes in the second to last game of the 2012-13 regular season. Since then, his career has been cut short due to a herniated disc in his neck. However, he hasn't retired from the injury just quite yet and is working hard toward making a comeback to the NBA.
According to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Okafor's agent Jeff Schwartz has confirmed that the former No. 2 pick out of Connecticut is hoping to return to the NBA this coming season. Okafor is still working on getting his conditioning to an NBA level and wants to make sure there are no potential setbacks if he does indeed accomplish this comeback.
Emeka Okafor, the former No. 2 overall pick who has been out of the NBA for three seasons, has decided to attempt a comeback with an eye toward joining a "contending team" in December or January.
Okafor's agent, Jeff Schwartz, confirmed that Okafor, who last played for the Washington Wizards in 2012-13 before suffering a herniated disc in his neck, is in the gym training and working on his conditioning.
"He's probably five or six months away,'' Schwartz said. "He's been working hard rehabbing. For some guys that means one thing. To Emeka, who understands his body as well or better than some trainers that have worked with him, it means something else. He's healthy. He feels great, but he's a perfectionist, and he wants everything to be right.''
Three years out of the NBA seems like a very long time to be out if you're thinking about a comeback. It feels even longer and tougher to come back from if the reason is you've had a herniated disc in your neck. But considering he'd be a minimum contract player at this point in trying to get back to the NBA, it's a very low risk for any team hoping to employ him. As long as he passes the physical exam to get cleared to play, Okafor could be a solid contributor off the bench in limited minutes as he gets acclimated to the NBA again.
The 33-year old center was one of the better rim protectors during his career. Adding that presence to a second unit could be huge for a contending team. The Golden State Warriors lost their two best big man rim protectors during the offseason in order to sign Kevin Durant. Andrew Bogut was traded to Dalals and Festus Ezeli signed with Portland. The Warriors replaced them with Zaza Pachulia and David West while also drafting center Damian Jones at the end of the first round. But those guys aren't rim protectors.
If Dewayne Dedmon isn't able to earn consistent minutes in San Antonio, the Spurs could be an interesting landing spot for Okafor, as well. And of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers could certainly look to add some interior depth after Timofey Mozgov signed in Los Angeles and Sasha Kaun retired. Lot of options out there for Okafor but he needs to prove he's healthy enough to play first.