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New Phoenix Suns big man Emeka Okafor to continue rehab in New York

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Newly acquired center Emeka Okafor has been issued uniform #50.

Now whether or not he ever gets the opportunity to wear the Suns’ colors is still to be determined.

Okafor, picked up in a trade with the Washington Wizards Friday, is dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. He missed all of training camp and preseason.

Okafor was in town Monday afternoon meeting with team officials, including president of basketball operations Lon Babby, general manager Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek.

The center also sat down with team doctor Thomas Carter as well as spine specialist Dr. Dennis Crandall.

“We agreed that he would continue his program in New York. He’s doing some rehab in New York for at least a month and then we’ll re-evaluate it,” Babby said Tuesday. “He’s got an injury that you want to be careful with, and there’s no reason to rush him back until he’s ready.”

If and when ready, the 6-foot-10, 255-pound Okafor would give the Suns a veteran presence inside. He averaged 9.7 points and team-high 8.8 rebounds in 79 games last season in Washington.

Okafor, 31, also gives the Suns an expiring contract. He’s due to make $14.5 million this season.

“We went into this with our eyes open. We knew that it was going to be a process,” said Babby, who called Okafor a “very smart, thoughtful guy. He’s going to analyze it very thoroughly. Together we’ll make the best decisions going forward, but there won’t be any news on him for at least a month.”

When asked if Okafor wants to be in Phoenix, Babby responded, “I would think so. He knows the quality of our medical and training staff. We didn’t really get into that because he’s not available to play.

“What he’s doing,” Babby continued, “he’s got a program in New York (where his wife and five-month-old daughter live). Rather than disrupt that, we decided better to let it continue.”