According to a report in the Miami Herald, the Miami HEAT are still looking to flesh out their roster further by signing another shooting guard and big man. We already covered the potential of bringing speedster Leandro Barbosa to Miami, but a position that remains incredibly thin for Miami is the center spot. The targets listed in the report are former Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor and the defensive minded Ekpe Udoh.
With Chris Bosh set to assume a more prominent role offensively, if begs the question if forcing him to continue to play center without another rim protector could be too taxing on him. It's not surprising, then, that Miami is looking to add bulk. Beyond Bosh, the only players on Miami's roster that can be referred to as centers would be Chris "Birdman" Andersen, Udonis Haslem, and Justin Hamilton. The Birdman is best suited coming off the bench, while Haslem remains undersized for the position. Hamilton has impressed in Summer League play, but it remains to be seen if he's good enough to be a rotation big in the NBA.
Okafor was the number two overall pick in the 2004 draft and spent most of his career with the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets. With career averages of 12.3 ppg and just under 10 rpg. Okafor has shown to be a legitimate double-double threat night in and night out. He spent the 2012-2013 season with the Washington Wizards after being traded with Trevor Ariza for our old friend Rashard Lewis (who was then bought out and joined Miami). He's also an immensely skilled shot blocking force, averaging 1.7 blocks per game for his career.
In Miami, Okafor would be allowed to play to his strengths, i.e. rebounding and defending the post and rim. He's not a "dump it down" low post player, but he's not quite Joel Anthony either. He can score on other bigs on his own in the post and occasionally flashes a short to midrange jumper. After two strangely inefficient seasons for a nascent Bobcats team, Okafor has shot well over 50% every season up until his last stint with Washington (48%).
The question with Okafor is his health as he missed all of last season (while on the Phoenix Suns) with a herniated disc in his neck. Miami's done the "project center" game many times before with middling results, but Okafor was a productive player and constant starter every year of his career. He would fill a glaring need and allow Miami to sport a more traditional starting five, while also having the depth to not force too many minutes upon him.
Bear in mind, however, that Miami only has the veteran's minimum to work with and the 31-year old Okafor has made quite a bit of money over his career. It is unknown if another team would offer him a larger salary with his injury woes in mind.
Ekpe Udoh was the 6th pick in the 2010 draft by Golden State, but was jettisoned to Milwaukee a season later in the Monta Ellis trade. Based on where he was selected, Udoh has been a disappointing player. However, he has shown one discernible skill and that is shot blocking. He sports a career per-36 minute shot blocking average of 2.6, which is outstanding, but is so bad at other facets of the game, you wonder if it's worth taking a flier on him. For one, the 6'10" big man sports a 42.8 FG%. That's bad if you're a guard. For a big man to be that inept at scoring and finishing is harrowing. The worst part of all this is he's seemingly gotten worse at shooting. In the 2013-2014 season with Milwaukee, Udoh shot 39.9% from the field. Furthermore, he's not much of a rebounder (6.8 per-36 minutes for career).
In his defense, he's played on some bad teams over the years and a change of scenery could help, but Udoh isn't good enough to start in the NBA and would be too redundant with the far superior Birdman coming off the bench.
As is customary, here's some highlights of the two players below.