According to DraftExpress.com, the New Orleans Hornets have agreed to send C Emeka Okafor and F Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards in exchange for F Rashard Lewis and the Wizards 46th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Confirming what @DraftExpress just tweeted: Wiz have agreed to trade Rashard Lewis and 2012 second-rounder for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 20, 2012
Lewis and his $23.7 million dollar contract can be bought out for $13.7 million before July 1st (which will 99.9% happen). This will save the Hornets around $30 million in cap space.
Ariza is owed $7.2 million next season with a player option worth $7.7 million for the 2013-14 season. Emeka Okafor is owed $28 million over the next 2 years.
GRADE FOR NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: A +
This is a tremendous deal for the Hornets franchise. Not only do they shed the contracts of Okafor and Ariza (2 seldom used players who had no real future with New Orleans), but they also get the contract of Rashard Lewis who they will clearly buy out to save even more money.
Going into the summer, the Hornets now have the #1 pick in the NBA Draft (This move signifies that Anthony Davis is now the sure-fire pick), the #10 overall pick, the #46 pick to help add depth to the roster, an enormous amount of cap space to sign free-agents and a star in the making in Eric Gordon (with this extra money, they will surely be able to convince Gordon to resign).
For a team in a full-out rebuilding period, you can’t ask for better assets than that.
GRADE FOR WASHINGTON WIZARDS: A -
The Wizards now find themselves with quite the formidable front-court in Nene Hilario and Emeka Okafor.
Despite playing just 27 games last season because of a sore left knee, Okafor is still a career double-double guy who at just 29 years of age can still provide solid interior defense and block shots at a steady rate. If he can get healthy over the offseason, he will surely be able to help the Wizards come the 2012-13 NBA season.
Trevor Ariza has fallen off the radar the last few years, but he is still a huge upgrade at the 3 spot over what Washington had this past season in Chris Singleton, Cartier Martin and Jan Vesely. Ariza averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 41 games for the Hornets in 2012. His slash to the basket mentality should mesh well with Wizards guard John Wall.
This trade solidifies the front court and gives John Wall a new toy to play with on the wing in Ariza. No one in Washington should really have anything to complain about with this deal.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports