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Hornets trade Okafor, Ariza to Wizards for Lewis, pick

Jun 20, 2012, 3:15 PM EDT

Trevor Ariza

The New Orleans Hornets are freeing up some salary cap room — by trading for the worst contract in the league so they can buy it out.

From Jonathan Givony DraftExpress:

New Orleans trades Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for Rashard Lewis and the #46 pick.

This has been confirmed by the teams and league.

The Hornets do this to save money — Lewis is supposed to make $23.8 million next season but can be bought out for $13.7 million before July 1. You can bet that happens (and Lewis becomes a free agent). The move also takes Okafor out of the lineup to clear space for future No. 1 pick Anthony Davis in the starting rotation. It also gives the Hornets room to chase some quality (not max deal, but quality) free agents.

Basically, this is a good move for a building team in New Orleans. They are building something.

For the Wizards, this is a move for the right now, and not a great one. They now have now made their bed with a starting lineup of John Wall at the point, whoever they draft No. 3 (shooting guard Bradley Beal seems likely), Ariza on the wing, Okafor and Nene up front. I say made their bed because Nene is owed $52 million over the next four years while Okafor and Ariza are owed a combined $43 million in the next two. The Wizards are pretty locked into this roster for a couple years.

Is that a playoff quality team in the East? Maybe if Wall finally makes the leap it is a decent, but it’s not a young team building up to be a contender like we expected them to build. It’s a team with a ceiling below the Heat/Bulls, and frankly below the Pacers and others. Rather than using their amnesty on Lewis and creating cap space to go after free agents thinking long tern they went this route. Interesting. I don’t love it, but the Wizards’ success really comes back to Wall and his growth.

  1. Louis Tumblin - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Every team won’t be able to build through the draft or free agency so they go the trade route. I don’t like this approach, but let’s see if it works. Quick fixs in the NBA are scary because of all the money you are adding to the salary cap.The Wizards are not title contenders and maybe not a playoff team.

    • cosanostra71 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM

      In all honesty, a front court of Nene and Okafor is pretty solid. Ariza in the starting lineup as well makes them fairly good defensively. If Wall can take the next step, IMO there’s no question they could sneak into the playoffs. I don’t see them making any noise if they get there, but they could do it. I don’t see much room for growth though, unless their #3 overall pick turns out to be a superstar.

      • bougin89 - Jun 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM

        cosanostra71…I think you pretty much hit this one right on the head. They will need their #3 pick to be a superstar for any realistic hope of making noise in the playoffs. Not a great trade by the Wizards part in my opinion but if Nene and Okafor are healthy at least they should compete in the regular season on a regular basis(which is much better than what they were a year ago).

  2. rajbais - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    OMG, two amnesty clause-worthy players swapped!!!

    I haven’t seen anything like this since the Sonics traded Vin Baker to the Celtics for Vitaly Potapenko!!!

    This is true NBA sadness.

  3. dr0pkickram0nes - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Don’t love it, don’t hate it. Was hoping they’d bring in Thomas Robinson (if he managed to fall past #2), but now it looks like they’re set on Beal.

    Either way Rashard was gone so we’ll see if Ariza can perform even half as well as he did for the Lakers a few years back. Now we just need to amnesty Blatch.

  4. pmd5319 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    As a Hornets fan, I love the trade for New Orleans. I don’t understand why the Wizards would want to make this trade though. I like Emeka and Ariza, but not at $13 and $7 mil per year respectively. I know the Hornets aren’t a better team on the floor because of this trade, but the financial freedom in the years to come is exactly what you want during rebuilding. One would think the Wizards would have the same mind set as a rebuilding team themselves. Bottomline is Monty Williams and Dell Demps seem to be on the right path. Hope in a few years this turns out well for both teams, because honestly, the NBA needs the bottom feeders to be competitive for the good of the sport. Unfortunely, I don’t see Wall becoming much more than he is now, and with big bucks in the often injured Ariza, Okafor and Nene, I don’t see this ending well for Washington. Hope I’m wrong.

  5. kinggw - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    This is a horrible trade for the Wiz. It doesnt matter what Lewis’ salary is this season, he had only one year left.A contract like his could be a nice trade asset, but as usual Grunfeld blew it. Why would you trade a guy with only one year left on a bad deal for two guys who will be signed through 2014 and may only marginally help the team at best. This reeks of another bad deal by Grunfeld. Remember when he turned the number 5 overall pick into Mike Miller and Randy Foye? I feel sorry for Wiz fans, but they should know as long as Grunfeld is in charge of this team they are going nowhere fast.

  6. icewinna0 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Bad trade. He’s Lewis has a terrible contract and isn’t that good. Okafor and Ariza are solid vets if they stay healthy

  7. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    The Hornets will now use his contract (which will officially gain “expiring” status on July 1) as additional cap space to sign free agents to go alongside Gordon and Davis. Should be interesting.

    Lewis won’t be amnestied. They’ll get whatever production they can from him this year, but it doesn’t make sense, or else the Wizards would have just amnestied him.

    • wlubake - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      Thought you couldn’t amnesty a player unless they were on your books as of the date of the CBA. Thus, you can’t amnesty a player received through trade.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      “Lewis won’t be amnestied. They’ll get whatever production they can from him this year, but it doesn’t make sense, or else the Wizards would have just amnestied him.”

      Lewis cant get amnestied by the Hornets. Players who are traded cant be amnestied, it has to be done by team who had player when lockout ended. The reason the Wizards didnt amnesty Lewis (they could have) is becuase they wanted to use his expiring contract (and buyout clause) as trade bait, which is exactly what they did.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        That’s what I was saying. If the Wizards wanted to amnesty him vs. using the contract as trade bait, they would have just done it. I swear people intentionally filter what I say. It’s like talking to most women.

    • pmd5319 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      You’re right, Lewis won’t be amnestied. I think the Hornets will pay the $13 mil to buy his contract out before July 1. They need to get the young guys as many minutes together as possible. Lewis will only eat into minutes that should be going to the young nucleus. If he helps win 2 or 3 more games next year, so what? It’s not like the Hornets will be a great team next year. Let the new guys take their lumps and grow together. The fans, the rational fans anyway, understand it’s a process. Lewis would only impede the development if they keep him on the team next year.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:56 PM

      you said “Lewis won’t be amnestied.” like you were making a prediction/forecast, when in fact it is impossible for N.O to do so. Thats what I was pointing out. Like if you said “player X wont pick up 7 fouls this game”. Yea, its true, but it doesnt sound right

  8. hscribner - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Wall, Okafor, Ariza.

    I label that one, “potential.”

  9. tomtravis76 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Bye Bye Andre as well.

    Harrison Barnes looks nice at the #3 pick. Not sold on Beal, totally.

    • stadix093 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      Ariza plays the 3 though. This draft is going to be very interesting.

      • 1historian - Jun 21, 2012 at 6:46 AM

        The draft is ALWAYS interesting. This is just another move.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      Barnes is a poor POOR man’s Glenn Robinson. STAY AWAY.

    • pglive21 - Jun 21, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      The Wizards would be doing the rest of the lottery a favor by grabbing Barnes. How is not more obvious that this guy has virtually no chance of reaching his potential? Did any of you even watch him play in college? If MKG is still on the board and they take Barnes they will rue that decision for years.

  10. shrshot - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Gak… This move has Grundfelds filthy stamp of mediocrity all over it. Just wait for Wall to bolt as soon as he can and the Wizards will be right back where they were 5 years ago. Worst run franchise in the NBA BY FAR!

    • tomtravis76 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      This is the most true thing I have read. The Wizards are shameful. They are in a major market, heck the nations capital, and they are terrible,and this is not some sort of bad streak they are on, they have been awful for so long and the best thing they can do is sniff maybe just maybe the 8th seed.

      Why would John Wall stay in DC when all he has to do is look at the history and know this franchise is never going to be a contender with the current staff running the organization. Ted is stealing from the fans in the DMV who have such a history and love of basketball.

      Wizards might soon fall behind the DC United. Wizards are embarrassing to the NBA, or should we call them the Bullets, since that change will be announced soon. Another trick by Ted in trying to get people to buy tickets. Winning year after year is all it takes, look at the Nats and Caps.

    • 20dollardinners - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:59 PM

      I am not sure I agree. Nene is a strong talent and Ariza and Okafur should compliment him. The challenge is there is just not that many top talents.

      I think they make the playoffs this year.

      The Bobcats are the worst run franchise – they take the cake for that one.

  11. cheers4ablumpkin - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Not bad at all. Ariza is a stub. He was a beast with the lakers n a beast when he played against the lakers in the playoffs. Good trade grufield

  12. wlubake - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    So who signs Lewis once he’s bought out? Is he even worth the mini-mid level now?

    • 20dollardinners - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:00 PM

      I think he is worth 2-3M on no more than a 2 year contract. Someone looking for some depth I assume – definitely a bench player now.

  13. playin2x - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Well guess the wizards home court advantage will always go to the visitors cuz no Washington fan wants to watch this “team” I don’t get it they did the same thing with Caron butler Jamison and arenas and got nothing in return … I agree with the guy who said Washington is the worst run franchise in the nba

  14. maverickstar7 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Not a bad move for the Wizards at all. They unload Lewis who barely played and didn’t want to be there. Now they are free to use the amnesty clause on Blatche. Two non-producing, high paid players gone. The second round pick is the 46th, not the 32nd which they still have. No big loss there. They get back two okay players that can bring some experience, character, and defense to the team. Both Okafor and Ariza have player options next year, so the Wiz may not even be on the hook for those salaries anyway. The front court is now a little better than it was yesterday and the path is clear to get a shooter like Beal in the draft. Its not a blockbuster move, but its an improvement. And who really cares what the salaries are? Don’t kid yourself that they have a shot at getting and big free agents. they are not going to be major players in free agency until they become a playoff team and look more attractive to free agents. If you don’t do stuff like this now, you wont’ have Wall around either in 2 years.

    • pmd5319 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      I like your take a lot. Only thing is, no way in hell Okafor opts out of making $13 mil a year. No way Ariza is going to opt out of $7 mil. The character of the Wizards has increased significantly adding these 2 guys. The Wizards financial flexability for the next few years has decreased, significantly.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM


      • pmd5319 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:09 PM

        Mr. Wright 212 – Jun 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM


        Did I misspell increased?

      • maverickstar7 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:31 PM

        I agree they are not as flexible for the next two years but they definitely were not going to get any major free agents this year, and looking at potential free agents next year why would any of those guys leave their current teams? In the era of max contracts and super teams, situation is just as important if not more important than the $. I’d rather have the small improvements now to make this a more desirable place rather than hold a surplus of cash hoping to lure a free agent that most likely wont come here anyway.

      • pmd5319 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        I understand, and maybe it’s different in DC I’m looking at it through small market eyes, but you’re not going anywhere with those guys. If the next 2 years, the Wizards are 38-44 ish, maybe you sneak in to the #8 spot in the East, but you’re not getting out of the first round. Meanwhile you are drafting somewhere between 13-18. So where is the team going? I know it’s cliche, but it’s true, the middle is the worst place to be. So if you don’t land big free agents and you aren’t drafting Top 5 – 10, where do you get players? I think Wiz set themselves back, but I’m not a NBA GM so I could definitely be wrong.

      • bougin89 - Jun 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM

        Mr. Wright212…its baffling watching you try to comment on contracts and cap flexibility.

        pmd5319…great point. I think the Wizards HAD to improve the character of their team and I agree this trade does move them in the right direction in that regard but as a team that is looking to improve you usually want cap flexibility and this trade locks the Wizards up financially for the next 2 seasons.

    • truefan2011 - Jun 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      exactly, thats why it’s stupid to see wizards fans complaining about this, finally somebody with a brain

  15. fanz928 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Good trade for wizards solid players and a top 3 draft at least they ended way better than Orlando now all they have to do is draft MGk or trob

  16. adzs - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    As a Hornets fan I love this deal; Kind of sad to see Ariza go he really was a model pro likewise for Okafor, but opening up that much cap space can not be underestimated…I no its seemed like a pipe dream among a lot of Hornets fans but i see us maing a run at CP3 next summer, and honestly, with Gordon, Davis and whoever we pick at 10 (unlike a lot of hornets fans i love the idea of perry jones being schooled by monty because effort will no longer be a problem lool), we will be just as attractive as the core that the clippers have of Griffin and (wildly overpaid) Jordan…just my thoughts anyway..

  17. slopmcflop - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Why the hell are there so many bad contracts in basketball? Haven’t GMs learned? Someone, not because sarcastic here, please explain this to me.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      Agents selling the idea that demand is scarce for a scarce ability, when in most of these guys’ cases — is farcical. Lewis being one of them. Putting up numbers on a bad team landed him that contract. Hell, the Sonics were only in position to land Durant BECAUSE they were THAT BAD. Otis Smith lost his job primarily because of that bad deal, which hamstrung the Magic for five years and hindered their ability to bring anyone in worthwhile to pair with Howard.

  18. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    *Demand is high for a scarce ability.

    Lewis is a dime a dozen player and the Magic bid against themselves, as no one was even offering 2/3 of what the Magic offered.

    But you’d be a fool to turn that money down if they offered it. The union even pushes these guys to do it.

  19. 00maltliquor - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Wow, that came out of nowhere. And you know what, I love it for both teams. Not a bad move. Although there goes your defense if you’re a Hornets fan, at least for now. I think someone above mentioned drafting both Davis AND Perry Jones…that was a pretty intriging idea. That or Kendall Marshall or Terrance Jones. Or take a chance on Andre Drummand if he does fall that far? Hornets got options. And the Wiz just got better, especially defensively and with high character guys who are vets. Forget cap space, ain’t nobody going to that team until they build the culture up.

    And both Ariza and Okafor are only on the hook for a couple of years anyways, use that amnesty on Blatche, draft Beal and I think they got something there.

  20. cereal blogger - Jun 21, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    As Wiz fan the deal is growing on me. They need to add some shooters, cut Blatche & sign Ray Allen to combo with Beal ? We are talking about a lockerroom with alot of character

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