Wizards Reflect on Okafor Trade
Although he was out indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck, [Emeka]Okafor appeared in good spirits and was focused on getting back “ASAP” to help the Wizards make a push for the playoffs. Okafor and the Wizards knew that the injury could potentially sideline him for several months, and possibly the whole season.
But the urgency to make the postseason and the slow progress of Okafor’s replacements created a situation in which the Wizards felt compelled to move him and a protected 2014 first-round pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat. So, while the Wizards were excited about what trading for Gortat meant in helping them possibly reach the playoffs, they couldn’t help but lament losing Okafor – injured or not – in the process.
“It’s kind of surprising we traded Mek, but this is a business at the end of the day,” Bradley Beal said.
Okafor was a valued locker room presence for the Wizards, providing encouraging words, unselfish play and a dedication to hard work that endeared him to his teammates. Wall credited Okafor for helping him mature as a leader after a locker room confrontation last season.
“I think everybody really liked what Mek did for us, how he was as a person,” John Wall said. “I think it’s a tough situation. It’s definitely a business thing you have to worry about, especially in the NBA. It’s tough not knowing. We already have 15 guys so you can’t really go get nobody. The only way we could make a move to try and get another big man was to make a trade.”