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Report: Emeka Okafor Cleared to Play, Attempting NBA Comeback

It’s a long shot, but for a Clippers team without many options, Okafor could be a low-risk, high-reward addition.

Los Angeles Clippers v New Orleans Hornets Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

According to Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press, former NBA center Emeka Okafor has been medically cleared to play and is attempting an NBA comeback.

Okafor last played in the 2012-2013 season for the Washington Wizards, averaging 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 26 minutes per game, while appearing in 79 games. During his 9-year career, he averaged 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds in 31.7 minutes per game.

While preparing for the 2013-14 season, however, Okafor suffered a herniated disk in his neck. The Wizards, scrambling to remain competitive, flipped him in a deal for Marcin Gortat (who is still their starting center now), and Okafor never appeared for the Suns. As a result of that injury, he hasn’t played since.

Now, at 34 years old (turning 35 in September), Okafor has been medically cleared to play. According to Krawczynski, Okafor “has been working out” and “still feels like he has plenty left in the tank.” Krawczynski also added that Okafor has “already been in touch [with] some teams.”

The Clippers have had a long history of “almost” encounters with Okafor, beginning on draft day in 2004, when the Clippers traded the second overall pick for picks no. 4 and 33. Charlotte selected Okafor 2nd overall, while the Clippers took Shaun Livingston and Lionel Chalmers.

Then, in 2008, when Elton Brand backed out of an agreement to return to the Clippers to play alongside Baron Davis, instead signing with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Clippers were reportedly interested in signing Okafor as a replacement. Okafor ended up signing a long-term deal to return to Charlotte.

In recent years, the Clippers have reportedly been interested in post-injury Okafor, but rumors of a return have never fully materialized. This summer, it appears like a real potentiality, and the Clippers, who will have limited tools to fill out their roster, could use a quality, cheap veteran for the backup center position.