Despite his brush with major injuries, veteran center Emeka Okafor is drawing serious interest from contenders around the NBA and two of those squads are LeBron James’ current team, Cleveland Cavaliers and former team, Miami Heat both of which are looking for an extra big man to shore up their frontline for the upcoming 2014-2015 NBA season.
According to ESPN.COM’s Marc Stein, teams are interested in Okafor when he returns and recovers from his injuries.
“Roughly half of the league, I'm told, has registered interest this summer in Okafor, despite the fact that the 31-year-old free agent missed all of the 2013-14 season while recovering from a serious neck ailment,” The NBA writer stated.
Okafor has suited up for three teams in the NBA playing for the Charlotte Bobcats from 2004 to 2009, New Orleans Hornets from 2009 to 2012 and the Washington Wizards from 2012 to 2013. He was eventually traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2013 but not for his on-court value but his friendly expiring contract. He missed the subsequent season due to a herniated disc in his neck and never played a game for the Arizona franchise.
The 10-year NBA veteran was 2nd overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft after showing a lot of promise in leading his college team, the Connecticut Huskies to the NCAA title in that same year he declared for the pros. He was named the 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year with the Bobcats beating no. 1 pick and big man rival Dwight Howard for the award.
The Heat and Cavaliers are both looking to add Okafor to address paint protection for their respective squads.
For Miami, the departure of LeBron James meant a return to a more traditional line-up that will future two big men as opposed to the time when they put a mobile forward like LeBron at the power forward spot. The Heat acquired Josh McRoberts in the 2014 offseason to join veterans like Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh in the Miami frontcourt.
For Cleveland, which had hit the jackpot in the offseason acquiring James and Kevin Love, they want to add another defensive center to help the oft-injured Anderson Varejao, youngster Tristan Thompson and veteran center Brendan Haywood in the Cleveland’s frontline.