Hornets trade Ariza, Okafor to Wizards
Not long after the dust settled on game 4 of the finals, the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Hornets completed a three player trade.
Washington will receive Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza while New Orleans will acquire Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in this year’s draft.
The move may puzzle the casual fan – “What? Why did New Orleans trade two starters for a Diet Pepsi and a pencil sharpener?” – Cap space.
Okafor and Ariza are both overplayed, especially Okafor who would likely fetch just over half of his current $12.6m contract on the open market.
Washington, having followed the Arenas/Crittenton firearm era with ‘Javale McGee & Nick Young’s flying circus’ era, are hoping for third time lucky.
This trade helps them to vaguely resemble a basketball team, on paper at least, if you squint really hard. The Wiz will at least have a reasonable starting line up which will likely feature Wall, the #3 pick, Ariza, Okafor and Nene. Not too shabby, especially compared to recent years.
Despite being known primarily as defensive forces and offensive liabilities, Okafor and Ariza surprised Hornets fans when they proved to be much improved offensively. Ariza drastically improved his previously woeful shot selection while Okafor, coming off a strict diet of jump hooks, starting making jumpers just outside the paid.
Now, allow me to replace my rose coloured glasses with some dull, yellowy brown ones.
The Wizards will likely make the playoffs next season in the weak eastern conference, but will have trouble further improving their roster due to having over $25m committed to Nene and Okafor alone.
Not to mention Washington management (the same Washington management responsible for the stroke of genius that was resigning Randy Whittman) still have Andray Blatche to deal with. Trying to get Blatche off your team is about as much fun as trying to get chewing gum out of your hair, but as Rashard Lewis’ involvement in today’s trade shows, there’s no such thing as an untradeable contract in the NBA.
The fan in me will miss seeing Okafor and Ariza playing fantastic defence in Hornets uniforms. The businessman in me (struggled to type that with a straight face) understands it’s for the best. This will allow the Hornets to have around $25m in cap space in the loaded 2013 offseason.
For many fans, there’re few things more annoying than business trades rather than basketball trades. Trading good players for financial reasons just doesn’t cut it for them. I’ll never forget something I read after New Orleans traded their second round pick to New York for cash considerations: “Ah yes, good ol’ Mr. Cash Considerations, who by the way, is yet to score a basket the in NBA”. Having said I’ll never forget that phrase, I’ve jolly well forgotten who said it. Onwards and upwards.
As Michael McNamara from Hornets247 pointed out, New Orleans would’ve been slightly better off amnestying Okafor (after this season) and trading Ariza. Okafor’s contract and Lewis’ buyout are both around $14m. If Okafor was amnestied, the Hornets would still have to pay his salary, minus the sum his new team pays him, resulting in the Hornets paying less than the $14m it will cost buy Lewis out. Additionally Ariza would likely have fetched a late first round pick in a trade, as opposed to the mid second rounder they got from Washington.
So the deal New Orleans went with is more costly (assuming someone picks up Okafor), doesn’t feature a first round pick or another year of Okafor’s services. Both deals result in the same amount of free cap space in the 2013 offseason, the reason the Hornets made the trade. The cake they ended up with is the same; it just could’ve come with better icing.
Many have speculated that new Hornets owner Tom Benson may not have wanted to use the amnesty clause. After all, convincing an owner in his first few weeks with the team to pay a player to leave and suit up for another team wouldn’t be easy. It just seems so silly that Benson’s likely amnesty reluctance resulted in a more costly move, essentially amnestying Lewis.
Lewis, heading into the final year of his ludicrous 6 year, $118m deal will almost certainly be bought out by the Hornets. A buyout will cost New Orleans $14m, as opposed to paying him the full $21 to play out the season.
Oh and despite essentially getting fired in the coming weeks, don’t worry, Lewis will be fine. Hell, if you got a crisp 14 mil to go away, wouldn’t you be?
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