Bobcats exercise option on Okafor
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) – The Charlotte Bobcats have exercised
the fourth-season option on forward Emeka Okafor’s original contract.
The 2005 Rookie of the Year is reportedly guaranteed a $5 million bonus in
salary for the 2007-08 season. The move was made 16 months before the option
deadline specified in NBA rules, which gave Charlotte until October 31, 2006
to exercise Okafor’s option.
Okafor, who was the second overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft, had a
terrific rookie season for the expansion Bobcats. He averaged 15.1 points and
10.9 rebounds per game, while also ranking second among all first-year players
in blocks by posting 1.7 per contest.
The Charlotte Observer reported last week that the Bobcats can make Okafor a
restricted free agent in the summer of 2008 and have the right to match any
offer he receives. Charlotte can also negotiate a long-term extension with
Okafor during the summer of 2007.
The 6-10 UConn product was a three-time winner of the Eastern Conference
Rookie of the Month Award (November, December, April) and also had a string of
19 consecutive double-doubles from November 21 to January 1, which was the
longest such streak by any NBA player in 2004-05. Okafor’s string is the
longest by a rookie since 12-time NBA All-Star Elvin Hayes registered 60
straight double-doubles during the 1968-69 campaign.
On the season, Okafor had 47 double-doubles and guided Charlotte to 18 wins in
its first campaign.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats extended qualifying offers to Gerald Wallace, Jason
Kapono, Keith Bogans and Matt Carroll. The offer gives the Bobcats the right
to match any other team’s offer for the four players.