As the trade deadline of March 15th comes closer and closer, teams in the hunt are trying to shore up their weaknesses. Every effort will be made to gel and be playing loose but error-free ball as teams begin their push for the playoffs.
The one impact player who may soon become the center of a lot of trade speculation is Emeka Okafor.
Emeka Okafor To The San Antonio Spurs?
Okafor is flying under the radar this season playing for the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets, who are having a difficult season with no shot for the playoffs.
Most of the talk about big men has centered around Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, both perennial all-stars, both being dangled by their respective teams in trade talks.
Howard is undeniably the best big-man in the game, but the totem pole is questionable for who is number two and so on down the pole. Okafor has to be considered one of the best big men playing, but he doesn’t get the credit he deserves after being stuck with two franchises who don’t have the bankroll for other superstars.
After winning an NCAA title at UCONN, he played five seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats before getting traded to the Hornets.
Both the Bobcats and Hornets need to concentrate on Moneyball tactics as their supply and demand for fans can only support so much and still make a profit. Ironically, it’s the NBA and its greatest player ever, Michael Jordan, owner of Charlotte, both in the same boat.
The Spurs have a lot they could get rid of in regards to their roster without giving up too much. Richard Jefferson, Danny Green, De Juan Blair and Matt Bonner are 3 starters and 1 guy getting heavy minutes off the bench that Spurs fans can live without.
The NBA Hornets would probably like to get rid of Okafor’s $12 million dollars per season contract, but they need players and/or draft picks to make things worthwhile. With the Spurs, there’s a deal in there somewhere.
Tim Duncan would re-work his contract if Okafor came to San Antonio. For Duncan, having Okafor coming to play alongside him in his twilight years, would be similar to how things ended for David Robinson. To make things most similar, Duncan and Okafor would have to piece together a championship, as Robinson and Duncan did twice-one of those being in Robinson’s last season.
Ironically, Okafor and Robinson share the same jersey number, #50, so something would have to get worked out on this issue (50 is retired in SA), maybe David has a suggestion.
Tiago Splitter would be excellent coming in to backup Duncan and Okafor. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and others will find a way to help their big men produce and this is what is holding up the Spurs now. They have the guards and small forward position figured out, but teams are able to beat the Spurs by going big and snuffing out drives and shots.
Adding Okafor would make the San Antonio Spurs an automatic threat for a title. Dallas, OKC, both LA’s would have a lot to say about how the Spurs are going to make it to the NBA Finals, but, at least the Spurs would have a better than puncher’s chance, which is all they got now.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com