Sources: Emeka Okafor to sign with Pelicans for remainder of season

Emeka Okafor has played six games this season after not playing the previous four seasons. (AP)
Emeka Okafor has played six games this season after not playing the previous four seasons. (AP)

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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