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Bobcats re-sign Okafor for $72 million

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó Emeka Okafor signed his six-year, $72 million free-agent deal with the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday and indicated heís excited to play under new coach Larry Brown.
Okafor, who was a restricted free agent, agreed to terms on the richest contract in team history early Tuesday after nearly a month of negotiations.
iThe Bobcats and the entire Charlotte community embraced me from day one,î Okafor said in a statement. iItís exciting to enter this season with a Hall of Fame coach and teammates who are committed to winning.î
The 6-foot-10 Okafor has averaged 14.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in four seasons in Charlotte. He was the expansion teamís first draft pick and the second overall selection in 2004.
iIt was important for us to get a deal done,î general manager Rod Higgins said. iSecuring Emeka demonstrates that Bob Johnson and the rest of our ownership group are committed to building a winning franchise in Charlotte. Any time you have a player who consistently ranks among the NBAís best in rebounding and shot blocking, you want to keep a guy like that around.î
Okafor is one of only four players to average a double-double in the past four seasons. Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are the others.
The signing ends a tumultuous 12 months for Okafor and the team.
Okafor turned down Charlotteís similar offer of $12 million a year last year. But with few teams having salary-cap space, Okafor did not accept an offer from another team since free agency began July 1.
Brown, beginning his record ninth NBA head coaching job, said keeping Okafor was a priority.

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