Report: Midseason return for Okafor -- and Lebron will be waiting

Report: Midseason return for Okafor -- and Lebron will be waiting
August 25, 2014, 12:15 pm
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(Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Whenever the rumor mill stops on Emeka Okafor, the question above all others is clear: Can he still play?

Apparently, the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers are among the teams wondering.

The veteran center last participated during an NBA game on April 17, 2013. Then came a herniated disc in his neck, which prompted the Wizards to trade Okafor and a first round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gorat before the start of the 2013-14 season. Okafor, who turns 32 in September, sat out that entire campaign.

On the court, the 6-foot-10 center is a shot blocking and rebounding presence. That's why teams are interested in adding him to their roster despite the long break.

That hiatus apparently will extend into the upcoming season. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Okafor is unlikely to sign anywhere until midseason as he continues to recover from his herniated disk

Regardless, teams will be patient, apparently including some competing against the Wizards in the Eastern Conference. Everyone should realize that the gaping hole on Cleveland's roster is a rim protector. LeBron James does a lot and so does Kevin Love, but they don't do that. The Miami Heat are also reportedly looking at Okafor.

"He'll be in high demand when he's back," a source told Stein, who also reported that around half of the entire league is thought to be interested in the defensive-oriented big man. 

That's possibly just agent spin. We need to see or at least hear reports of Okafor participating in basketball-related workouts before assuming he'll play. Then again, he always kept in tremendous shape. Cleveland and Miami can't afford to pay him much more than the veteran's minimum. After years of playing for lottery-bound teams, after possibly sitting out around 18 months, money shouldn't be a hindrance in the pursuit of Okafor.

RELATED: [Paul Pierce shows off his offseason workout in Wizards gear]