NBA Trade Rumors: Will Emeka Okafor Find a New Home in San Antonio?

Garrett Jochnau@@GarrettJochnauCorrespondent IIMarch 1, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22:  Emeka Okafor #50 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots the ball over Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs at the New Orleans Arena on January 22, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

As March 15 draws nearer and nearer, teams are frantically looking to shop players before the deadline. Big names have been tossed around in the trade rumors: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, etc.

There is a long list of stars who may find themselves in new cities after March 15. Along with certain players, certain teams have also found their way into several headlines. Most specifically, the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic have become regular dinner conversations, largely due to all of the Dwight Howard drama.

Behind the scenes deals have also been discussed, bringing teams like Minnesota, Houston and Boston into the mix. However, it seems as though the Spurs never get caught up in all of these rumors. Other than the demands of shooting guard James Anderson, the San Antonio Spurs have always seemed to stay low-key during trade rumors.

Despite this, recent reports have surfaced containing the possibility of a trade involving the veteran team. Emeka Okafor's name has been shadowed by other big men: Howard, Gasol, even teammate Chris Kaman. However, Okafor's contract makes him expendable to New Orleans, who might look to shop him as they begin their rebuilding stage.

Okafor is a solid role player and if he is moved, could possibly reach his full "second pick" potential. He was averaging close to 10 points and eight rebounds before an injury, but his monster contract makes him unappealing to New Orleans. The Hornets may look to deal the big man and teams could be able to get him on the cheap.

San Antonio has been named as a possible destination for Okafor and is the most fitting one. The Spurs' largest problem is their lack of big men. With Duncan is nearing the final stages of his career, their only other options at the post spot are Tiago Splitter, DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner. Splitter has proved to be a weapon this season, but Blair is undersized and Bonner is not very athletic. If Okafor were to join the team, he would provide the Spurs with a great backup post option, adding size and depth to the already strong team.

The biggest problem the Spurs may face in dealing for the big man is getting the money to match up. Okafor's contract is large and even if the Spurs were to package multiple role players, they might fall short in making the money work.

Ideally, New Orleans would take in Richard Jefferson's contract. NOLA is yet to find a viable option at the small forward spot, and Jefferson's scoring and experience could help the Hornets. The Spurs would also be forced to send one of their guards to New Orleans, perhaps Danny Green. Depending on how badly New Orleans wants to get rid of Okafor, the Spurs may be able to send Anderson instead.

San Antonio would be the perfect candidate for Okafor. He'd deal with little pressure, not having to be the top big man on his team. He would play behind Duncan and with the Big Fundamental's experience as well as Popovich's coaching, Okafor could finally break through and be a star player. Even if he doesn't break out, if he consistently puts up 10 and eight then he could contribute to the success of the Spurs.

Whether or not San Antonio explores the options of a possible trade, a lot depends on the team's play in the next week. They played at a high level during the first half of the season, earning their spot among the leagues most elite. If they continue this over the next week-and-a-half, they may decide to leave the roster how it is. If they do begin to slow down though, a change may be necessary. If they reach this point, don't be surprised to hear Okafor's name tossed around.