Pelicans Rumored to Sign Emeka Okafor for Remainder of Season

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2018

New Orleans Pelicans center Emeka Okafor (50) plays against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Emeka Okafor's NBA return with the New Orleans Pelicans will reportedly continue for the remainder of the 2017-18 season, per Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The 35-year-old is averaging 3.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in six games with the Pelicans. New Orleans had exhausted its two 10-day contracts with Okafor, who had not played in the NBA since the 2012-13 season due to a neck injury.

"It was essentially a four-year process," Okafor told William Guillory of the Times-Picayune. "I just took my time making sure, not only the initial injury [was healed], but to recondition and rehab everything. ... [I] figured while I'm waiting for my disc to heal, I can take the time to heal other things. When I come back, [I can] feel nice and bouncy and rejuvenated."

The Pelicans signed Okafor to provide a defensive presence in the middle and ease the burden on Anthony Davis, who has played center more following a season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins. Okafor has started four of the six games he's played with the team, which has helped give Davis fewer minutes banging in the middle.

New Orleans has won five straight to move within two games of the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

"He's playing well for us," Davis said. "[He's] blocking shots, rebounding, getting offensive rebounds for us, setting screens to get guys open. He's doing all the little things for us to help us win. You need guys like that, and he's embracing his role. ... I'm glad that he's here helping us."

The Pelicans have outscored opponents by 9.3 points per 100 possessions with Okafor on the floor, per Basketball Reference, and he hasn't been a glaring minus on offense. It only makes sense for them to keep riding this good wave for the remainder of the season.

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