After initially inking a pair of 10-day contracts with the Pelicans, veteran center Emeka Okafor signed a standard deal with the team last month. That agreement was reported as a rest-of-season contract, but according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, it could keep Okafor in New Orleans next season too.
As Marks details, Okafor’s new contract includes a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2018/19. If the Pelicans keep the former No. 2 overall pick on their roster through the offseason, the deal would have trigger dates for a partial guarantee.
Based on Okafor’s performance so far with the Pelicans, the team’s decision to include a second year on his contract looks like a savvy one. New Orleans hasn’t lost since the 35-year-old entered the starting lineup, having posted a 7-0 record in Okafor’s starts. He has averaged a respectable 5.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.7 BPG in those games (15.9 MPG), holding his own in his first NBA action since 2013.
As Marks notes, the only downside of the Pelicans potentially keeping Okafor for a second season would be his $2,445,085 cap hit. The NBA covers a portion of a veteran player’s minimum salary if he signs a one-year deal, but doesn’t do so for multiyear agreements. That means that Okafor will count for nearly $1MM in extra salary for cap and tax purposes than he would if he were to re-sign with New Orleans on a one-year minimum deal. Still, if Okafor finishes the season strong, that modest investment could be worth it to keep him off the open market.