The Washington Wizards have made a pretty big trade eight days before the 2012 NBA Draft, acquiring Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets for Rashard Lewis and the No. 46 pick. We will talk extensively about the on-court fit of Ariza and Okafor over the next few days, as well as what this means for the Wizards' decision in the 2012 NBA Draft.
But for right now, it's important to note the salary-cap implications of this deal. They are real, and they are spectacular. Well, maybe not spectacular, but I just wanted to work in a Seinfeld reference.
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Assuming the trade goes through, here is the Wizards' salary data for next season:
- Emeka Okafor: $13.5 million
- Nene: $13 million
- Trevor Ariza: $7.3 million
- Andray Blatche*: $7.2 million
- John Wall: $5.9 million
- No. 3 pick**: $4.1 million
- Jan Vesely: $3.2 million
- Kevin Seraphin: $1.8 million
- Chris Singleton: $1.6 million
- Trevor Booker: $1.4 million
- Jordan Crawford: $1.2 million
- Shelvin Mack: $762,000
- No. 32 pick**: 762,000
*=Likely Amnesty candidate.
**=Equal to the slotted first-year salary of the 2011 No. 3 and No. 32 picks. Those numbers are expected to stay the same this year.
TOTAL: $61.72 million
TOTAL WITHOUT BLATCHE: $54.52 million.
NOTE: This does not include any cap holds for existing free agents James Singleton, Cartier Martin, Brian Cook or Morris Almond.
This means that the Wizards will not likely be a big free-agent player this summer, even if Blatche is released via the Amnesty clause. The salary cap will be set at $58 million, so that should eliminate all high-level and even mid-level free-agent prospects. The most the Wizards could do is sign someone for potentially half of the value of a mid-level exception.
The more interesting scenario is next summer. Here's the Wizards' situation then, assuming Blatche is let go:
- Emeka Okafor: $14.5 million*
- Nene: $13 million
- Trevor Ariza: $7.7 million**
- John Wall: $7.5 million***
- 2012 No. 3 draft pick: $4.3 million
- Jan Vesely: $3.3 million
- Kevin Seraphin: $2.8 milllion***
- Trevor Booker: $2.35 million***
- Jordan Crawford: $2.2 million***
- Chris Singleton: $1.7 million
- 2012 No. 32 draft pick: $762,000
- 2013 first-round pick: ????
- 2013 second-round pick: ???
*=Can exercise an early-termination option and become a free agent; this is what he's owed if he doesn't.
**=Can exercise a player option and become a free agent; this is what he's owed if he doesn't.
***=Eligible for a contract extension, but it would not kick in until the following year.
NOTE: Does not include any cap holds.
TOTAL: $60.11 million, not including draft picks.
That means that, barring bounce-back seasons from Ariza and/or Okafor that cause them to opt out of their current deals, the Wizards probably won't be a free-agent player in 2013 either. Essentially, they've decided that Nene, Ariza and Okafor are their free-agent acquisitions for the next two years, with Nene also being one for the two years after that. This also means that the Wizards will not be able to execute unbalanced trades with the salary cap, which could be even more valuable that using the space to sign free agents in the coming years, with many teams likely to shed long deals to get under the luxury tax before harsher penalties kick in after the 2012-13 season.
The Wizards clearly are a better team now than they were before making this trade. It remains to be seen if the salary-cap cost is worth that improvement.
(Thanks to Sham Sports for all the salary data).