It's no longer inconceivable Emeka Okafor could end up in trade talks once his base-year compensation status expires over the summer.
The last three games illustrated how difficult it is for him to guard true giants at center. Dwight Howard, Yao Ming and an aging Shaquille O'Neal all dominated him one way or another. Okafor shot 2-of-9 in Phoenix and had nearly as many fouls (five) as rebounds (six).
Plus, it was hard to miss coach Larry Brown's sarcasm Friday, when he started praising Howard's tough screens. Brown finished that thought with this aside: "Just imagine if our center set screens.''
Both for better and worse, you know precisely what Okafor offers. He's one of a handful of NBA players who've finished each of the past four seasons averaging a double-double. Despite some early injury problems, he's durable, having played 148 consecutive games. He's smart and mature.
Then there's the downside. He's 6-10 and not a great leaper, but he has to play center based on his limitations away from the basket. He gets his shot blocked often because he plays mostly below the rim. And he's a liability as a foul-shooter.
I'm not saying Okafor will be traded or even that it's likely. I'm saying with conviction he's no longer untouchable, despite a contract that averages about $12 million per season.
Base-year compensation is a salary-cap restriction that makes it difficult to trade a player the first season after he signs a new contract with a huge raise. That's over for Okafor this summer.
Trading Okafor would be tough both because of his sizeable contract and the difficulty replacing what he does as a rebounder and post defender. But the past 10 months have illustrated what a spirit of change has enveloped the Bobcats.
They're down to five players from last season. One of those, Sean May, doesn't figure to be back without a huge pay cut and another, Nazr Mohammed, would already be gone if the Bobcats could find a taker for his contract.
If Okafor ever was an untouchable, he's not anymore.
Posted by Observer Sports on February 25, 2009 at 11:33 AM | Permalink Comments
Keep those Okafor bobblehead dolls handy. eBay here we come. Seriously, when one thinks of the Bobcats doesn't one automatically think of Okafor, Crash and Felts? I know that other teams have made major trades--even guys like AI and Shaq haven't been untouchable. So there's nothing so special in the larger picture about Mek that he would be untouchable. It's just that he's been the face of the Cats for five seasons so it would be so weird seeing him somewhere else. What's up with Kaman these days? And would he fit our style? The Clippers are basically guaranteed to be in the lottery hence they'd have a pick to include. They could use Mek. Hey, right now they could use anyone.
Great post. This is exactly what I've been thinking over the past half a year.
Okafor's too slow for PF and too short for C.
Trade Okafor for good guards such as Hinrich or Hamilton will definitely help Charlotte's weak 2-guard position.
(If we can get Hinrich then we don't have to overpay Felton).
Are you talking about Rip Hamilton? Why would we want another starting-caliber shooting guard. We just need a solid backup for Bell, not someone he has to compete with (and ultimately lose out to).
When considering to deal Okafor, we would need another quality big man in return. If Okafor leaves, we're left with Diop, Diaw and Ajinca (assuming Howard retires at the end of the year). We NEED Okafor right now to balance everything out.
As owl said, someone like Chris Kaman would be pretty good for us. Personally, since people were talking trade with Indiana, I was thinking this:
Felton/Okafor/May for Tinsley/Hibbert/Murphy/Daniels or Rush