LAS VEGAS (AP) -Larry Brown has big plans for Emeka Okafor. The new Charlotte Bobcats coach is hoping he'll get to work with him.
With contract talks involving the restricted free agent moving slowly, Brown made it clear Thursday it's important the Bobcats keep their starting big man.
``I hope that it works out because I was with him a little while and he's a terrific kid,'' said Brown, who coached Okafor on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. ``He plays a position that's very hard to find. And he's the second pick in the draft. I'm sure we'll do what's right. Hopefully he'll be here.''
Okafor turned down a contract offer from Charlotte last summer worth more than $12 million a year. The second overall pick in the 2004 draft then averaged 13.8 points and 10.7 rebounds while playing all 82 games last season.
The negotiating period started July 1, and teams could begin signing players on Wednesday. But the two sides were far from a deal Thursday. Okafor's agent, Jeff Schwartz, is out of the country this week and unavailable for comment.
While the Bobcats can match any offer from another team, the Los Angeles Clippers have plenty of salary-cap space and are looking for a big man after losing free agent Elton Brand to Philadelphia. However, the Clippers could pursue another available big man, Atlanta's Josh Smith, instead.
Center Andrew Bogut's new five-year, $72.5 million deal with Milwaukee could also drive up Okafor's price.
Bobcats center Ryan Hollins, participating in the Brown-coached Bobcats minicamp this week on the UNLV campus, said Okafor is working out on his own in New York. It's expected Okafor will wait to see what offers come in from other teams before making a decision.
``This is the business side of it,'' Hollins said. ``We hope he's back.''
Brown said he hasn't talked to Okafor in a couple of weeks. He's leaving the negotiating to general manager Rod Higgins. Managing partner Michael Jordan is also involved.
Okafor could also sign a one-year qualifying offer with the Bobcats worth $7.1 million. While that would be much less than he was offered last year, it would allow Okafor to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Brown just wants Okafor on his roster as he begins his ninth NBA head coaching job. Brown envisions the 6-foot-10 Okafor continuing to play both center and power forward and anchoring the defense with his shot-blocking ability.
``He's certainly mobile enough and athletic enough to play out on the perimeter,'' Brown said. ``He's strong enough to play inside. So we'll hopefully figure it out. ... You hate to lose assets.''
Notes: Hollins said he was still experiencing dizziness Thursday, a day after sustaining a concussion in a nasty collision with G Mustafa Shakur in the morning practice. Hollins, who also needed six stitches to close a wound above his right eye, is scheduled to see a doctor Friday. He's out indefinitely. ... The Bobcats play the first of five summer-league games Saturday against the Clippers. ... Jordan is expected in town next week to watch the team. He's playing in a celebrity golf tournament this week.

Recent NBA Discussions

Top NBA Public Bets


NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Hungry Clips open season in Portland Having suffered a disappointing first-round exit in last year’s playoffs, the Clippers spent the offseason tinkering. No established stars left Staples Center, but...
Thumbnail Harden, Houston visit new-look Los Angeles No one’s expecting the Lakers to make major waves as soon as 2016-17. With Luke Walton at the helm, though, the franchise hopes it’s pinpointed the man to turn...
Thumbnail Cleveland ready to rock anew vs. New York The Cavaliers are ready to revel in their first NBA title in 52 years. But will the new-look Knicks spoil the celebration in...
Thumbnail NBA 2016-17 MVP Odds Will Stephen Curry make a run at a third straight NBA MVP honor, or will someone else push him for the crown? Get a...
Thumbnail Lottery pick to begin pro career as reserve The Lakers stumbled to a 17-65 finish in 2015-16. Yet that doesn’t mean they’re willing to just hand over the keys to the No. 2 overall pick in June’s NBA draft.
More inNBA Articles  

NBA Team Pages