12:04pm: Bobby Marks of ESPN.com clarifies (via Twitter) that the date for Okafor’s $100K partial guarantee had been pushed back to September 21, which helps explain the timing of today’s move. As such, New Orleans won’t be on the hook for any 2018/19 money for Okafor.
Marc Spears of The Undefeated adds (via Twitter) that Okafor has previously communicated a desire to continue his NBA career into the ’18/19 season, so we’ll see if he’s able to catch on with another club.
11:42am: The Pelicans have parted ways with veteran center Emeka Okafor, announcing today in a press release that the former second overall pick has been waived. Assuming Okafor goes unclaimed, he’ll clear waivers on Friday, becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Okafor, who was selected after Dwight Howard in the 2004 draft, played nine NBA seasons before health problems derailed his career in 2013. After missing four seasons, the big man returned to the NBA for the Pelicans in 2017/18 and provided solid minutes for the team after DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles tear.
In 26 games (19 starts) for New Orleans last season, Okafor contributed 4.4 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 13.6 minutes per contest. He was out of the club’s rotation by the postseason, however, appearing briefly in just one playoff game.
Okafor was one of several players on the Pelicans’ roster who didn’t have a fully guaranteed salary — he reportedly had a $100K partial guarantee, so New Orleans will only be on the hook for that amount. With Okafor no longer in the mix, the Pelicans will have an open spot on their 20-man offseason roster, even after the team officially completes its deal with Jarrett Jack.
Okafor’s departure may be good news for a fellow big man who shares a last name with the veteran. Jahlil Okafor is now the only frontcourt player with a non-guaranteed salary on the Pelicans’ roster, and could be in good position to earn one of the open spots on the 15-man regular season squad.