NBA free-agent watch: Emeka Okafor

NBA free-agent watch: Emeka Okafor
June 30, 2014, 9:30 am
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When the clock strikes midnight, when the weekly calendar flips from Monday to Tuesday and from June to July, NBA free agency begins. Last year the Wizards didn't wait long before re-signing Martell Webster and adding point guard Eric Maynor. We'll see how quickly they move this time. What we know for sure is they will be targeting big men, whether their own or not. Perhaps even someone who was once on the roster, until he wasn't

Free agent: C Emeka Okafor, Phoenix Suns. Unrestricted. 

2013-14 salary: $14.5 million

Vitals: 6'10", 250 pounds. 31 years old. 

Career averages: 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 51.2% FG, 58.4% FT. Last season: Did not play due to herniated disc in neck

The fit: Everyone knows the plan involves bringing back Marcin Gortat, but should he sign elsewhere, the Wizards be on the lookout for a center. What about the one they had before who was traded for Gortat? Okafor's serious neck injury led to Washington shipping him and their 2014 first-round pick for Gortat - and to the veteran missing the entire season. The Wizards have ranked top-10 defensively for two straight seasons and Okafor's rim protecting presence certainly helped start that trend. Though not much of a scorer, Okafor consistently produced double-doubles. He also knows what it takes to work with John Wall and Nene.

Chances of becoming a Wizard: Well, for starters, we don't even know if Okafor will play this season. Even if he can, there won't be a need for the lengthy shot blocker should Gortat stay with the locals. But, assuming Okafor can suit up and the Wizards come knocking, the price would surely be right, perhaps 50 percent or so of Gortat's yearly deal. Even before the injury we're talking about a mid-tier center overall, but better than that defensively and a level better than what other teams use. Due to a limited crop of viable free agent centers this summer, Okafor will hear from teams assuming he's willing to pick up the phone.

 

NBA Free Agent profiles

Guards: D.J. AugustinPatty Mills, Greivis Vasquez

Wings: Kent BazemorePatrick Patterson, Thabo SefoloshaLance Stephenson, P.J.Tucker

Bigs: Alan AndersonDeJuan BlairMatt Bonner, Boris DiawPau Gasol, Spencer Hawes, Josh McRoberts