WESTWEGO, La. — With Emeka Okafor still nursing a mystifying knee injury, the Hornets made a move Tuesday to sign a player local fans are familiar with, one who came highly-recommended from friends of Monty Williams.
New Orleans signed center Chris Johnson, a former LSU player who was a part of the Tigers’ last NCAA tournament team.
“I talked to some people in Portland about him,” said Williams, New Orleans’ second-year coach. “They were really high on him. He’s a guy who is energetic, can defend a little bit, tries to block shots, can run the floor.
“And it’s a good way for us to get a look at another guy who kind of fell through the cracks because of the situation on another team that didn’t benefit him.”
Johnson (6-foot-11, 210 pounds) played in 20 games with Portland this season and 10 in 2010-11.
In 35 games with the Dakota Wizards of the NBA D-League in 2010-11, he averaged 16.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks, earning an All-Start berth and the league’s defensive player of the year honor.
But the Hornets aren’t bringing Johnson on to be an All-Star.
The reasons are two-fold – first, the team isn’t sure just where Okafor is in his rehabilitation from a knee injury and secondly, as the team readjusts for the future, they’re trying to build a long list of players available.
“We just want to try got get a look at as many guys as we can,” Williams said. “We’ve had different guys all year long. We may be setting a record for number of guys we put on the floor but at the end of the year, I think we’ll have a database on guys this is pretty in depth and we can make better decisions.”
Johnson could play Wednesday night against Golden State if he gets into New Orleans this evening in team.
Williams said he still has to go through the team’s physical with the trainers to make sure the center checks out.