After returning to the NBA from career-threatening back issues, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor is planning to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans for the remainder of the season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Okafor’s second 10-day contract ended on Sunday, and he will sign a guaranteed deal for the season on Monday, league sources said. New Orleans signed Okafor after losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles tendon, and Okafor has emerged as a starter for the Pelicans
In six games, Okafor has averaged 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 points, two blocks and 16.2 minutes per game and has gone 4-0 as a starter alongside Anthony Davis. New Orleans is on a five-game winning streak, improving to 33-26, and is a half-game out of the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
Okafor, 35, last played for the Washington Wizards in 2013, when he suffered a herniated disk and underwent multiple years of rehabilitation. The 6-foot-10 center had worked out for teams over the past couple of years, but signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in training camp and played for their G League affiliate in Delaware this season. Around the NBA, including with Delaware, Okafor has a reputation as a strong worker and high-character professional.
Okafor, the Rookie of the Year in 2005, has played 10 seasons for Charlotte, New Orleans and Washington. Okafor entered the NBA after a standout career at UConn. He has career averages of 12.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.
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