Morning tip: Okafor's outlook hasn't improved

Morning tip: Okafor's outlook hasn't improved
October 26, 2013, 11:30 am
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What factors led to the Wizards trade for Gortat ?

(Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Many will assume the reason the Wizards executed this trade for Marcin Gortat is that the status of Emeka Okafor's herniated disk looks more dire than they'll admit.

And that assumption would be correct.

CSN Washington has learned that the Wizards had talked about making the swap with the Phoenix Suns before, but the deal was fast-tracked over the last three or four days when it became evident that Okafor -- who is listed as out indefinitely -- won't be coming back any time soon.

President Ernie Grunfeld hinted at that Saturday after the Wizards practiced.

"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."

There was a chance, given if his neck responded to therapy, that Okafor could've bounced back in a couple of months. With training camp and preseason over, however, the prognosis didn't improve enough to give the Wizards hope.

Okafor's defensive presence will be hard to match for a team that was top 10 in points allowed last season. But Gortat provides the Wizards, tied for last in offense, a competent enough defender who is more of an offensive threat and allows Nene to move back to his preferred spot at power forward. 

If Okafor is back on the court and training before this year is out, that would be a surprise. Then, he still has to get back into game shape. By the time he's able to hit full stride in that best-case scenario, the Wizards' season would be past the halfway point and could be out of the playoff picture. None of this matters to the Suns, who are playing for 2014-15. 

For the Wizards, majority owner Ted Leonsis has made it clear he wants a winner this season. No excuses. 

That forced the hand of the front office to move on from Okafor, who was a good fit for coach Randy Wittman's system but had an unpredictable injury at the wrong time. 

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