The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has acquired center Emeka Okafor and a top-12 protected 2014 first-round pick from the Washington Wizards in exchange for center Marcin Gortat and guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall.
With the addition of the top-12 protected pick from the Wizards, Phoenix now potentially possesses four first-round selections in the 2014 NBA Draft: the Suns’ own pick, Indiana’s pick (top-14 protected) and Minnesota’s pick (top-13 protected), in addition to the pick acquired from Washington.
“Marcin, Shannon and Kendall have been valuable members of the Suns family the past few years,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “We have enjoyed working with each of them and appreciate their hard work and professionalism. We wish all of them well.”
“We are excited to add another first-round pick in what is shaping up to be the best draft in a decade,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “We now have a chance to make four first-round selections in 2014. Emeka Okafor is a solid veteran center who will help solidify our front line when and if he is able to return from injury.”
Widely regarded for his defensive toughness and high basketball IQ, Okafor adds veteran leadership to the Suns’ roster. A nine-year veteran, he did not play for the Wizards this preseason as he was out with a herniated disc in his neck. Last season, he posted 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 79 games for the Wizards. Okafor enters the 2013-14 season in the final year of his contract.
Okafor, the 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, averaged a double-double in each of his first five NBA seasons and holds career averages of 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.66 blocks. The No. 2 pick of the 2004 draft, he culminated a standout collegiate career at the University of Connecticut by being named Most Outstanding Player of the 2004 Final Four after leading the Huskies to the NCAA title.
Gortat departs the Valley after emerging as one of the Western Conference’s best centers during his tenure with the Suns. The six-year veteran came to Phoenix in a trade with the Orlando Magic during the 2010-11 season and played in 182 consecutive contests after being acquired by the Suns before missing the final 21 games of the 2012-13 season. Overall, the Polish Hammer averaged 13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.47 blocks in parts of three seasons with Phoenix, and ranks fifth in Suns’ history with a .547 field goal percentage with the club.
Brown, who signed with Phoenix before the 2011-12 season, averaged double-digits in scoring in both of his two seasons with the club, a feat he had never done before signing with the Suns. During his time with the Suns, Brown averaged 10.7 points in 118 games and set a franchise record for most three-point makes in a single quarter when he drained six from long distance in the fourth quarter of a win at Charlotte last season.
Marshall played in 48 games and averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 assists as a rookie with Phoenix in the 2012-13 season. Marshall recorded at least ten assists in each of his three starts last season and became the first player since Steve Nash in 1996 to tally double-digit assists while making his first career start in a Suns uniform.
Lee came to the Suns along with the draft rights to Archie Goodwin in a trade with Golden State on June 27, 2013. Lee did not dress for the Suns’ preseason contests as he continued rehab on his right knee following surgery last January.
The Suns’ roster now stands at 14.