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)
LAS VEGAS -- Prior to Saturday, Washington Wizards center Emeka Okafor had never seen his new team play. The whirlwind of a trade, combined with normal offseason planning, made things difficult for him. That's why he decided to put on a plain red shirt, sit on the Wizards' bench and support the team for its second game in the NBA Summer League against the Houston Rockets.
Prior to the game, a handful of media members caught up with Okafor to discuss the trade, his role on the team and more. Here's a transcript of that interview.What was your reaction when you first got traded?
EMEKA OKAFOR: "Outside of the initial surprise of being traded, it was pretty much nothing but positive. I'm a fan of D.C. as a city. There's a very good mix, a lot of different people, and it's a city, you know? Basketball-wise, I know they finished on a strong note, and they have a lot of hidden talent. Nene, Jan, etc. After the initial shock of the trade, it was pretty good."
How do you see guys meshing together at that 4-5 combo?
EO: "I think it'll be a 4-5 combo. Nene was, before he was my teammate, a person that I didn't look forward to guarding. He just had all sorts of moves, and he played with a lot of energy. We'll definitely find a rhythm, and I'm looking forward to being able to practice against each other and making us ever better."
Have you been able to see Bradley [Beal] play?
EO: "I haven't. I haven't. So I'm looking forward to it."
What about some of the other guys? What did you think about Jan Vesely, playing against him?
EO: "I was injured, so I didn't get to play against him."
Nene played a lot of 5 for Denver last year. On the court, how do you address that?
EO: "5, 4, they're pretty much interchangeable in the NBA. A post player is a post player, and as far as the roles of the 4 and the 5, they're a little hazy anyway. To me, 4 and 5 is who you guard. Who's going to guard the taller guy that game?"
You guys work that out yet?
EO: "No, but even within a game, you cross-match sometimes. So it really doesn't matter."
What have they communicated to you about the general philosophy of the team on offense?
EO: "Haven't gotten that far yet or had conversations about that yet. Hopefully it'll become more evident during this time."
Is this a team where, if you look at the roster, you think, 'We have a chance to compete for the playoffs?'
EO: "I believe that any team in the NBA has a chance to compete. It's about chemistry. It's about coming together at the right time. It's about execution. Any group of 15 guys can do that."
How much does it help to have Trevor [Ariza] coming with you to the Wizards?
EO: "It's great. You also know you have another great player coming. He was my teammate, and there's a real familiarity with him. It's always nice to have someone else coming with you."
Have they talked to you at all about a leadership role with the young bigs like Jan, Kevin [Seraphin], etc?
EO: "Yeah. It's just telling them how to work hard, showing them how it's done."