Emeka Okafor being chased by Miami Heat and others

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In baseball, a left-handed pitcher will always get another opportunity. In basketball, the same seems to be true for a big man.

Emeka Okafor missed all of last season with a neck injury. And he won't be ready to start this year or until midseason. But teams are reportedly still lining up for his services, according to

Okafor is being pursued by both Miami and the Cleveland Cavaliers, just like LeBron James was in the offseason, ESPN's Marc Stein reports. Okafor is set to get a little less money, though.

Why they want him

Stein reported that “roughly half the league” has inquired about Okafor. A big part of that is because of the defensive presence that Okafor brings. suggests that the move would mean Okafor would start ahead of Chris Andersen while Chris Bosh could move back to power forward if he signed with Miami. And, if he signed with Cleveland, he would do it as a backup big man.

Another interesting move that came up within the past week was ESPNCleveland reporting that 39-year-old Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has been retired for three years and has his number retired, is interested in a comeback.

Just more proof of the redeeming power of being really tall with some basketball skills to go with it.

What Okafor has done

Okafor never played for his last team, the Phoenix Suns, after being traded there last season in a deal that sent Marcin Gortat to the Wizards.

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For his career, Okafor has averaged 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game since joining Charlotte in 2004.

But his best statistical seasons are well behind him.

He last averaged a double-double in 2008-09 for Charlotte when he averaged 13.2 points and 10.1 boards per game. He averaged 15.1, 13.2, 14.4 and 13.8 points along with 10.9, 10.0, 11.3 and 10.7 boards his first four years, all with Charlotte.

How good will he be?

The question now would be how far from 100 percent he will be even when he does return from the herniated disc that's keeping him out.

It's hard to imagine he will regain his early career form, so a move like going to Cleveland and playing off the bench for a winner might just be his best bet. If things go well, it could give him a ring and open up future opportunities.

If not, well, he's a big man and there will always be another team ready to give him a shot.

Miami Heat
Eastern Conference
Cleveland Cavaliers

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