Emeka Okafor signed with the New Orleans Pelicans for the remainder of the season on Monday, the team announced.
The 6-foot-10 center just completed his second 10-day contract with the team.
He has played in six games, averaging 3.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2 blocks. He's started four games, including Sunday's 123-121 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks when he scored two points and grabbed six rebounds.
Retaining Okafor for the remainder of this season was an easy call, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Monday.
"I don't think anybody's surprised at that, really," Gentry said. "He's been solid for us. He's done a good job of anchoring the defense, really. You can play him five minutes. You can play him 20 minutes. Or you can not play him at all and he's fine.
"We just felt like he's helped us enough that he deserved to be here the rest of the year," Gentry said.
The 35-year old Okafor sat out four seasons recovering from a herniated disc before the Pelicans signed him in early February. He's added a strong inside presence in the absence of DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his Achilles and is out for the remainder of the season.
"Our guys really like him and get along with him," Gentry said. "I think he's all about the team. He's been that way his whole career. Just having him around, I think has been really good."
Okafor said he isn't surprised he's been able to contribute despite being away from the game so long.
“No, it’s sports," Okafor said. "My mentality has just been to be ready. I know what I’m good at. I know what my core basketball values are. This year, being in the G-League and trying to get back in the NBA, my mantra has been to be extremely proficient and be ready.”
Amid the franchise's first playoff push in years, Okafor provides experience and a calming presence for New Orleans, which went to the playoffs with Okafor in 2010-11.
In his one career trip to the postseason, Okafor averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in six games.
"Now that I'm back, it feels good and it feels natural," Okafor said two weeks ago. "I'm going to keep on going until I'm told otherwise."
Christian Boutwell contributed to this report.