Way back in May we started our Green Target series with a look at Brandon Roy as a possible Celtics target. Since then we've highlighted several more options and other sites have followed our lead speculating on who the Celtics might go after. Most notably Chris Forsberg was pumping out a bunch of nice possibilities on ESPN Boston. One player not yet mentioned is Emeka Okafor.
How the Celtics could get him:
Just like with Roy, Okafor has the potential to become a free agent via the Amnesty Clause that is now almost a definite to be in the new CBA. While there will be some very solid players available after teams rid themselves of large contracts via this clause, unfortunately the picking at center will be slim. Later this week we'll project who each team might let loose, but the only centers I'm seeing are Andris Biedrins, maybe Okafor, and possibly Chris Kaman. So the first hurdle will be getting the Hornets to release him to save on his very hefty contract.
Since the Hornets are owned by the NBA it's hard to know what they might do. They have David West and Carl Landry as free agents already, so if they want any chance of keeping Chris Paul, they will need to spend on the front line. Okafor still has three years left on his contract at big money. Many teams would choose him as their Amnesty guy, so it's possible the Hornets will too. The competition will be very steep for his services. It should be about the money as he'll get to keep the 45 million owed to him, but lots of contenders need centers and they're just not many out there. The Heat would make a push for Okafor and so would the Knicks. Possibly the UCONN/New England connection with Ray Allen could be an enticement. If I were Danny, I'd ask Ray and Jim Calhoun to lobby on the Celtics behalf.
(Pros, cons, and video after the jump.)
Join me in Boston.
Pros: Still in his 20's, Okafor has only missed 10 games combined the past 4 seasons. He gives you a double double from the center position and will also block a couple shots per game. While he didn't live up to expectations in Charlotte, he was asked to be "the man" there and in Boston he would be an ensemble piece. The weight of his contract wouldn't be on his back and he could just feed off the Big 4. If Okafor becomes a free agent and chooses Boston, it's a no brainer to sign him.
Cons: Well I just said it's a no brainer to sign him, so the cons won't mean as much now, but Okafor isn't a perfect player. His heart/effort has been questioned at times. More so regarding nagging injuries keeping him off the practice floor. Also, his numbers declined in New Orleans, so that's not a good sign. The only other con is that there might be better players for the Celtics to build the future around available via the Amnesty Clause, but they're wings and after the Celtics traded their only two young bigs, Kendrick Perkins and Semih Erden, the Amnesty free agents might be the only chance for the Celtics to get a center and compete this season.