The Wizards traded Rashard Lewis to New Orleans for Center Emeka Okafor and Small Forward Trevor Ariza. My initial thoughts were probably like everyone else; They are a couple good (not great) veteran players - but are they worth the cost?
Grades for the trade and my thoughts after the jump.
First - let me say that I HATE this trade. It smacks of classic Ernie Grunfeld - Make a move for the sake of making a move. Make the move way too early. Settle for less, and give up more. Classic "win now", sacrifice the future, Ernie Grunfeld. He did it in 2009 when he traded away the 5th pick in the draft for Mike Miller and Randy Foye - while at the same time helping to make Minnesota relevant again when they used that pick to select Ricky Rubio. Now he's giving New Orleans the opportunity to quickly rebuild around Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon. With their new cap flexibility (formerly the Wizards cap flexibility), the Hornets could have up to $30 Million to spend on next year's Free Agents. Deron Williams? Dwight Howard?
The Wizards get a couple solid veteran players to help John Wal succeed. Both players are very good defenders and excellent rebounders, especially on the defensive boards (a real need for the Wizards). They know how to play, where to be, how to act as Professionals. But let's face it, both players are at best average NBA talents.
Okafor's offensive game has steadily declined over the years, but he is still very sound defensively. Unfortunately, I can't imagine he's got too many years left playing even at an "average" level... There's also the question about his knees... The 8 year veteran had "mysterious" knee issues this past season that the NO team physicians and trainers were having difficulty diagnosing - and as a result, he only played 27 games.
On the positive side, as long as his knee is sound, Okafor should make a nice complimentary piece next to Nene. Both can set devastating screens; while Okafor can control the boards and defend the rim. Nene is a bit more offensive and with his mobility and athleticism, should be able to defend most Power Forwards - giving the Wizards a couple good veteran big men to anchor the defense, control the boards and do all the "little things" on offense.
While Ariza is an upgrade over both Chris Singleton and the oft injured Rashard Lewis, he doesn't address the Wizards biggest need: Long range shooting... He'll play good defense. He's a good passer and a very good rebounder for a wing. He can score.... But someone better clamp down on his shot selection, otherwise he'll take shots that would make even Jordan Crawford cringe. After a very good year in Denver, Ariza had a couple meh seasons in New Orleans. Although he's been a starter the last several years, he's a role player and would be better coming off the bench.
For those of you who are saying: "It's only this year and next".... Remember that the Wizards will have to pay their players coming off their Rookie Contracts (John Wall, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford). Ernie has put the Wizards in the same situation as the OKC Thunder... Up against the Cap, and unable to make any moves, for now, and the foreseeable future. Unfortunately for the Wizards, they don't have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden already on the roster....
I have two MAJOR problems with this trade:
1. It was widely reported that New Orleans was dangling the 10th pick as an incentive to any team willing to take on Okafor (or Ariza). And when I say widely reported, I mean like EVERYWHERE. ESPN, SI, Slam online, Twitter, the New Orleans papers - EVERYWHERE. Yet, Ernie couldn't pry that pick from the Hornets?
From: The New Orleans Times-Picayune
To improve the roster around Davis, the Hornets could try to explore a deal that would include trading either center Emeka Okafor or small forward Trevor Ariza, along with the 10th pick. That would clear salary cap space to possibly pursue more veteran help in free agency.
From: SLAM Online
Hornets GM Dell Demps told the Times Picayune that he’d be open to trading either Emeka Okafor or Trevor Ariza, along with the Hornets’ 10th pick, to dump salary and possibly pursue veteran free agents.....
And the Wizards gave up the 46th pick, but didn't get the 10th pick?
2. The Wizards no longer have any cap flexibility. I understand that there really wasn't much in this year's Free Agent class -and that cap space this SUMMER may have been wasted... But what about this coming trade deadline in February 2013, or next Summer? The Wizards gave up any hope of doing something when there may be teams desperate to avoid the Luxury Tax, or when there WILL be some top Free Agents available next Summer (Josh Smith, David West, Andrew Bynum, James Harden, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Manu Ginobli, Dwight Howard, etc...)....
This trade removes the possibility of making any major Free Agent deals, not just this year, but also next year. It takes away any potential cap space trades, Trade Deadline deals or amnesty auction deals. For instance, the Dallas Mavericks will almost certainly be offering the 17th pick to take Shawn Marion off their hands - the Wizards now cannot afford that option; even though Marion is a much better player than Ariza on a similar contract. Draft night could see a ton of action with picks being offered and trades being made. Meanwhile, the Wizards will be unable to participate fully because they have no cap room to facilitate trades (ie: Like the Kirk Hinrich trade that enabled the Wizards to obtain Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford).
Are the Wizards better after this trade? Yes. Perhaps even good enough to win 35-40 games.
Are they a Playoff team after this trade? Maybe. Perhaps they can sneak into the 8th or 7th slot for the next few years.
Will this trade make them a contender? NO !
GRADE for the Wizards = C-
Meanwhile - on the Hornets side:
The Hornets dump a ton of salary, both this year, and next - Make room for Anthony Davis - Keep all their draft picks - Set themselves up to re-sign Eric Gordon - Open up a lot of playing time for their young players - Set themselves up to be a big time player for next year's Free Agent pool - Pick up a 2nd round pick in this year's draft....What did I miss? Why stop with the 2nd rounder, go all in and give them the 3rd pick too! Why not throw in $3 Million dollars Ernie? Did you consider giving them naming rights to the Verizon Center? How about throwing in the Wizards TV deal? - This is a STEAL for the Hornets -
GRADE for New Orleans = A+
I really need to understand why the 10th pick was not in play. The Wizards lost a ton of cap flexibility, while the Hornets gained a ton of cap flexibility. The Hornets save over $6.6 Million on this years cap when they buy out Rashard's contract, and more than $22 Million off next year's cap. That is cap space that used to belong to the Wizards, and now New Orleans has it.
The Wizards get two "average" players (Okafor's PER = 15.13, Ariza's PER = 14.23)
The Hornets just opened up lots of playing time for their young players (Anthony Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Xavier Henry, Gustavo Ayon, Jason Smith and the 10th pick) - while simultaneously gaining tremendous cap flexibility.
And it was the WIZARDS (???!?!?!) that gave up a pick?
GRADE for Ernie Grunfeld = Fail