I've been pondering the recent trade and, after I stopped thinking about the immediate impacts (rotation crunch, veteran influence, loss of immediate cap space), I moved on to what this trade will look like down the road. Granted, there's no way to tell what will happen roster-wise in the next two years, but assuming the Wizards' roster and cap situation will look somewhat similar in the last year of Okafor and Ariza's contracts (plus draft pick and free-agent exception salaries), what happens in 2013-14?
All of the 2010 draftees will be moving into restricted free agency or the first year of their second contract, while other members of the youth movement (Jan Vesely and whoever this and next years draft picks) will still be under their relatively cheap rookie contracts. Randy Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld will also be in a contract year. The options for major change (here's hoping the need for a really major change won't be there) will be very open. Barring the need to totally blow things up, Grunfeld could potentially get creative with the expiring contracts of Ariza and Okafor.
What really intrigues me about this scenario is that 2013-14 is the first season of harsher luxury tax penalties (incremental increases in the rate, depending on the amount of salary above the threshold, with the repeater rates looming in the next season). If Ariza and/or Okafor are still around at that point, their expiring contracts have expanded value, beyond offering simple cap space or tax relief to what was previously the handful of owners looking to dance around the luxury tax line.
I know the better prepared owners around the league will be ready for this in one way or another, but I think it's a safe bet that there will be a few scrambling to at least climb down a rung or two in the tax penalty. This expands the value of expiring contracts, and with the tax increasing in $5 million increments, an expiring contract like Ariza or Okafor would be a home run in getting a team's tax penalty down. Consider a team like the Grizzlies, who are currently investigating moving Rudy Gay to accomplish a similar goal. The Hawks have to do something like this sooner or later (Right?). I can guarantee some other team will move into playoff hell and chicken out of paying the team salary and a harsher luxury tax or another will want to avoid the repeater tax (which again, is looming in the season after the two new Wizards' contracts expire). The 2013-14 season could represent a peak in the value of expiring contracts in this CBA period.
Sort of makes the "kicking the can down the road" salary aspect of this trade look a little better, no?