I am in the minority here, but I don't think the trade with the Hornets for Okafor and Ariza was a bad trade. In this post I will explain my reasons, and hopefully by the end of it, we can at least add some perspective to the deal.
Development of talent:
Doc Rivers notably said earlier this month in regards to playing time,"You can't hand it to them, I look at the Washington [Wizards] model, where they played Andray Blatche and those guys, and what did it teach them? That they're going to play them anyway?"
By doing this trade there are proven veterans added to the starting lineup which makes for less available playing time, but more accountability. The guys on the team are going to have to prove themselves a lot more now. When they receive playing time, it will be because they have earned it, not because all other options have been exhausted. I understand that playing time is essential to player development, but the young guys aren't going to learn anything just getting free reign. Doc Rivers' mention of Blatche is relevant too; by making players earn their playing time, you can weed out guys like Blatche earlier and maybe prevent prima donnas in the first place.
Gets the Wizards into the Playoffs:
By making this trade in addition to their draft pick, I think Washington will be a much better team. The Eastern Conference is going to be even weaker next season, giving the Wizards a great chance of at least making the eighth seed. Assuming the starting lineup is: Wall, Beal, Ariza, Nene, and Okafor, with Jordan Crawford coming off the bench, I think this is a good enough team.
Helps Wall reach his potential:
This trade gives Wall the chance to show what he can do with decent talent around him. I am not calling the supporting cast great, but they are a hell of a lot better than that of this past season. If Wall is playing with better players, he has less pressure on himself to do everything, is less of a focus defensively, and he has more passing options. The last one is big too seeing the missed assist tracker. After this trade Wall will have a legit scoring option on the perimeter in Beal, a pick and roll partner in Nene, and an excellent finisher in Ariza. Okafor isn't anything more than a fourth or fifth option, but he can make shots in the paint, has a high fg%, and will create extra possessions with his rebounding including put back shots. The bench is no longer bare either with last year's starters there in more comfortable roles. With this trade, John Wall is put in a position to shine.
Raises the Potential for this team:
I get that many posters will argue the trade is taking away young prospects' playing time, but I think it's beneficial to their development. Before this trade what would the Wizards look forward too? Probably having to overpay on some middling talent who wouldn't be much better than the alternative. I doubt playoffs would be in reach and Chris Singleton likely could still be the starter. Honestly, do you trust Ernie Grunfeld to make the right moves? Yeah this isn't a great trade, but it could be a lot worse. A major argument against this trade is in regards to it limiting any cap space. The Wizards weren't going to get any superstars with their cap space, probably not even reliable starters, just stop gag players. There isn't much available this offseason. The Wizards probably weren't going to be in the running for any big free agents next year anyways. To regurgitate what was said in the press conference, Washington is getting two starters for a guy they were going to pay to leave.
This trade fills a bunch of the Wizards major holes. First, they get a starting caliber small forward in Ariza and no longer have to settle and put whoever is available there. Additionally They are getting a starting center in Okafor. The Wizards are adding two defensive specialists. Ariza is the perimeter stopper and throughout his career has been consistently shutting guys down. In Okafor, Washington has a true rim protector. Okafor is one of the top shot blockers in the league and will add a lot to the frontcourt defensively. Also from this trade, the Wizards are adding some much needed size and length to their frontcourt. They will go from potentially having the undersized Nene and Trevor Booker as the starting bigs to moving Nene to PF with Booker as a spark off the bench. At the same time, Trevor Ariza will add some scoring, albeit inefficiently but he isn't afraid to take shots. He's also an excellent finisher and will be able to run with John Wall on the break and get looks off cuts to the basketball. The last hole this trade fills is in the Wizards' previous rebounding problem. Ariza is a good rebounder for his position and Okafor has always been one of the best rebounding centers. Though last season he was slowed by a knee injury, he should be healthy once the season starts. I think this deal adds many new dimensions for this team and I'm a fan of it.