I will, however, say that the reason I bring up this ‘fantasy trade’ is because I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the player(s) I’m about to mention. This isn’t an original idea on my part — so maybe I can’t be blamed for creating this ‘fantasy’ — I’m simply responding to what others are talking about.
Listen, Okafor is overpaid. I’m not sure that there are many in NBA circles that could argue that he’s making too much money (not that it’s HIS fault though; the man simply signed a contract that he was offered). Here’s what’s left on his deal:
2010/11 -$11.5 million
2011/12 - $12.5 million
2012/13 - $13.5 million
2013/14 - $14.5 million
The Raptors are in dire need of a starting center right now (or a legit back-up at the very least). They thought they had that big man in the middle when they were close to pulling off a trade for Charlotte Bobcats big man, Tyson Chandler. But when that deal fell through, Andrea Bargnani was penciled back in as the starting center for T.O. and Amir Johnson suddenly went back into the starting line up as well (at PF). And now the Raps are left with Ed Davis and Reggie Evans coming off the bench with Solomon Alabi as the only other CENTER. It’s not pretty at this point.
That’s where Okafor comes into the mix.
By acquiring the 6′10 product from Connecticut, Toronto would have that starting center they’re looking for and Bargnani could slide over to his more natural position at the 4. The Raptors would be obtaining a durable player that has played all 82 games for 3 straight seasons; a big man that has averaged 13.3 PPG, 10.3 REB, and 1.8 BLK for his career.
Last season was the only year in Okafor’s career where he didn’t average a double-double and his scoring totals (10.1 PPG) were the lowest in his career as well. That said, at 27 years old, I don’t think his skills are diminishing or his ‘game’ is on a down-turn. On top of that, the New Orleans Hornets are hurting financially. They’d probably WELCOME any opportunity they’d have to rid themselves of Okafor’s tab. Heck, every rumour you’ve heard about Chris Paul being traded from New Orleans includes Paul’s new team picking up Okafor in the deal as well (with the thought being that the Hornets would say to “Team A” … ‘you want CP3? Well, you’re taking Emeka then too’). So if you’re the Raptors … when not swoop in and take Okafor anyway? By doing so, Toronto could be scratching New Orleans’ back as well … in that the Hornets could now trade Paul and NOT have to unload Okafor in the same transaction; you would assume that that scenario would improve the offers for Paul from teams around the league.
(*And, no, Toronto is not getting Chris Paul; he’s not coming here).
The Raptors could make this deal as well without having to give up a player from their roster. Toronto could use most/all of their trade exception from the Bosh-to-Miami deal and acquire Okafor for, essentially, nothing more than money. In fact, if the Raps are still interested in dealing Jose Calderon, perhaps a potential deal with New Orleans could involve the Spanish guard … giving the Hornets an insurance plan for a potential Paul trade (with Calderon and Darren Collison now pairing the point in Louisiana).
Yes, it’s a lot of money. But when I look around the league and check out centers that are available in free agency or MAY be available in trade … it’s slim pickings! Thus, Okafor is worth the ‘risk’ for Toronto.
Roll the dice.