Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins today announced that the team has re-signed restricted free agent forward/center Emeka Okafor to a multi-year deal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“It was important for us to get a deal done,” Higgins said. “Securing Emeka demonstrates that Bob Johnson and the rest of our ownership group are committed to building a winning franchise in Charlotte. Any time you have a player who consistently ranks among the NBA’s best in rebounding and shot blocking, you want to keep a guy like that around.”
The second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Okafor earned 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year honors, becoming just the third player from an expansion team to win the award. The 6-10 Okafor has played in 248 games over four seasons with the Bobcats, averaging 14.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots.
“This is a great opportunity for me to continue my NBA career with the franchise that selected me back in 2004,” Okafor said. “The Bobcats and the entire Charlotte community embraced me from day one, and it’s exciting to enter this season with a Hall of Fame coach and teammates who are committed to winning.”
Okafor is one of only four NBA players to average a double-double in each of the last four seasons, along with Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. He is the Bobcats all-time leader in rebounds, blocked shots and double-doubles, and ranks second in scoring, field goal percentage and minutes played. Okafor will enter the 2008-09 season with active franchise-record streaks of 93 consecutive games played and 92 consecutive games started.
Okafor averaged 13.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots during the 2007-08 season, while shooting a career-high .535 from the field and playing all 82 games for the first time in his career. Okafor ranked sixth in the NBA in rebounding, tied for 10th in both blocked shots and double-doubles and 12th in field goal percentage. He was one of 13 players in the NBA to average a double-double for the season.
In 2006-07, Okafor averaged 14.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and was the only player in the NBA to rank in the top 10 in rebounds, blocked shots and double-doubles. He blocked a career-high and franchise-record 10 shots on January 12, 2007, against the Knicks, setting a Madison Square Garden record and tying the NBA record of eight blocked shots in a half. Okafor averaged 12.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in an injury-shortened 2005-06 season. Despite playing in just 26 games due to an ankle injury, he still ranked second on the team with 16 double-doubles.
After becoming the first draft pick in Bobcats history, Okafor averaged 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2004-05, leading all rookies in both categories. One of 11 NBA players to average a double-double for the season, he ranked third in the league in offensive rebounds, fourth in rebounds and double-doubles and 14th in blocks. Okafor was a three-time winner of the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award en route to Rookie of the Year honors.