New Orleans Hornets dump salary in trade with Washington Wizards


emeka okafor trade

The NBA off-season is officially underway as the first trade has been made between the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Hornets.  Here is my analysis on the deal which includes Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Rashard Lewis, and a pick in the up-coming 2012 NBA Draft.

Washington Wizards Get: C-Emeka Okafor, SF-Trevor Ariza

New Orleans Hornets Get: F-Rashard Lewis, 2nd round pick (46th overall)

Why this makes sense for Washington:
The Wizards pretty much give up next to nothing for a pair of veterans who can step in right away and contribute on a young team.  This process of adding experience began prior to the trade deadline with the acquisition of Nene and continues with this deal.  The biggest concern from Washington’s perspective is having to pay Okafor more than $28 million the next two seasons while they are already giving Nene $13 million per year.  That’s a ton of money to cough up on two guys who play the same position unless the Wiz are confident the duo can be affective on the floor at the same time.  Even paying Ariza nearly $15 million for the next two seasons is a tough pill for me to swallow.

What is interesting is how this deal will factor into Washington’s draft decision.  With Ariza and Chris Singleton at small forward, the trade suggests that the team will pass on Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist since it would create quite the logjam at the three.  I would expect Washington to now be targeting Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal since Jordan Crawford is their only two under contract for next season.

Why this makes sense for New Orleans:
It continues the re-building effort that began last off-season when the team traded Chris Paul and also saves the Hornets more than $22 million in cap space for next season.  Reports say Lewis and his outrageous $23.8 million salary will be waived before July 1st which will save the team about $10 in cap space this season.  In other words, this was purely a salary dump for New Orleans who will look to build for the future with a core of Anthony Davis, whoever they take with the tenth pick, and hopefully Eric Gordon assuming he re-signs a long-term extension.

Speaking of that tenth pick; I had been assuming that the Hornets were targeting either point guard Damian Lillard or Kendall Marshall, but by trading Okafor there is now a hole in the middle alongside Davis.  Therefore, you can expect them to switch their attention to adding some size at ten with Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard, Jared Sullinger, Arnett Moultire all possibilities.

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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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