Here's a roundup of all the reactions to yesterday's big trade that brought Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis and the No. 46 pick.
Grunfeld, to Wizards.com: I think their personalities fit into what we're trying to do. Good character guys, guys that care about winning, guys that are real team-oriented players. We think last year's team showed that at the end of the year, so we think these guys are going to fit into this team as far as that's concerned.
Ted Leonsis: I also am happy that we were able to add these two players because their coming to our team is guaranteed, while playing free agency is a bit more of an unknown outcome. In free agency, you can bid on and recruit players, but since they are unrestricted free agents, they can choose to go wherever they feel is best for their careers and their family life. And to sign them, you must make a long term commitment that could affect your team in the out years of their deals. These two new players are not signed for the long term – so we can manage our team, retain players and add players in the mid to long term the right way. We still have the draft coming up – and I bet we have some more moves to make before next season.
Tom Ziller, SB Nation: This trade was a concession, an admission that the likelihood of a team like the Wizards could not use that cap space for players better than Nene, Okafor and Ariza. What a sober determination to make at this point. But if any team needs to be sober about the way out of the cellar, it's Washington.
Rohan, At The Hive: Though Dell Demps denied the rumor that the Hornets were willing to dump the 10th overall pick to get rid of one of the two contracts, it's clear that the team (and the majority of the league) viewed both contracts as hindrances and not assets. And that's what makes this Wizards deal so stunning. New Orleans went from potentially moving the 10th pick in order to dump Ariza or Okafor to shipping out both Ariza and Okafor without losing the 10th pick. I won't get into the deal from Washington's perspective, though in my mind, it's borderline nonsensical. They improve in the short term (Wall/Beal/Ariza/Nene/Okafor should challenge for the 8th seed next year), but they've locked themselves into basketball purgatory. Rebuilding around Wall, Nene, and MKG really seemed promising; adding on $42M worth of marginal contributions to that core feels foolish.
Zach Lowe, Sports Illustrated: This Washington roster could well make the playoffs next season — and lose in the first round. Is that worth the sacrifice of easy cap flexibility and another lottery pick next year? The easy answer is that the Wizards should do whatever it takes to make Wall happy, but Wall isn’t exactly in the All-NBA third team conversation yet, and players coming off rookie deals don’t change teams as free agents. That’s the entire point of restricted free agency: to remove that kind of leverage from the system. The Wizards, of course, will keep working the phones. This isn’t the end game, but it will be interesting to see if they can manufacture a better one than this.
Ivan Carter, CSN Washington (see above video): As a basketball move, this does not make you sexy, it's not going to make you a contender. It does make you a better team. I will say that. It's a fantasy on the playoff thing, but it does make you better. It does make you a more serious team, and that's what this is about. They were knuckleheads. Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, [they didn't] really take things seriously.
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: But, also realize this is the Wizards’ youth for a while. They are set, and they better nail this 2012 pick. Right now, on your SAT exam, "Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden" is NOT an analogy for "John Wall, Jan Vesely and Bradley Beal."
Michael Lee, Washington Post: [Bradley] Beal is now considered the favorite, because he fills a need for perimeter scoring and shooting, but a source with knowledge of the team’s plans didn’t rule out the possibility of still taking [Michael] Kidd-Gilchrist, who would only be 20 when Ariza’s contract expires in 2014. There has been a recent undercurrent of support for [Harrison] Barnes, according to league sources. [Andre] Drummond and [Thomas] Robinson would appear to be the odd men out.
Kevin Jones, WUSA9: Now with the additions of Ariza -- a capable 6'8" slasher who can hit shots and cause matchup problems -- and Beal, Wall finally has adequate toys to play with. Usually by an NBA player's third year, we begin to fully understand who he is. All the Wizards are asking Wall to do is cut down on turnovers and read game situations better. The shooting can be left up to Beal and Ariza.
John Hollinger, ESPN: [Ernie] Grunfeld said the Wizards are better than they were yesterday, and in a very narrow sense he's correct: This deal does incrementally improve his roster. But there are far more efficient ways to produce the same improvement, and instead Grunfeld has essentially handcuffed the franchise to two more years of mediocrity so he could win a news conference.
Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo! Sports: The ? As has been the case for, oh, our entire lifetime? They're putting together a curious move that seems to combine hefty salary with mismatched vets that might not suit the team's young and emerging core. Yet another deal with enough upside and NBA-orthodoxy to allow us to argue away its better points, while still leaving us dubious because it's the bloody Washington Wizards.
Matt Moore, CBS Sports: Yeah, we're not sure what the Wizards are thinking here. It's true that Ariza and Okafor are competent veterans who can play next to John Wall and Nene in a more established team, but those are longer contracts that are overvalued. It clears room for the amnesty of Andray Blatche, but is that worth what they're taking on?
Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus: Looming over everything is the question of what Washington wants to be. The Wizards have now added two players nearing 30 in the last three months (Nenê and Okafor); Ariza, at 26, is still in his prime but unlikely to age well given his dependence on athleticism. Washington's desire to add veterans is an understandable response to the shenanigans of the Andray Blatche-JaVale McGee era, but the Wizards seem to have gone too far in the opposite direction, leaving little upside around the duo of Wall and the No.3 pick.
Rob Mahoney, Bleacher Report: Not only have the Wiz so willingly muddled-up their salary-cap picture by adding a fairly massive amount of salary over the next two seasons, but they've acquired a competent big man who isn't at all compatible with their incumbent—and superior—big man. And they've also netted a wing player capable of completely trapping the Washington offense within the confines of the three-point arc. With all of the 2011-2012 Wizards' decent three-point shooters traded away, likely to be gone this summer or shoved down on the depth chart, Washington has positioned itself for a truly revolutionary level of court-clogging.
Nicolas Nightingale, Washington Times: Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza have been brought into Washington to provide two things for the struggling Wizards: durability and versatility. Team president Ernie Grunfeld expects both to contribute on both counts after acquiring them Wednesday from the New Orleans Hornets for high-priced forward Rashard Lewis who is due to make nearly $24 million next season and the 46th overall pick in this year’s draft.
Daniel Leroux, Real GM: In the worst case scenario, Washington gained two quality rotation players on a team that sorely needed them. Both Okafor and Ariza are good enough to play meaningful minutes for this team while not being so good or long-term to make them obstruct the acquisition or development of other potential talent. On top of that, the fact that both expire in 2014 makes them incredibly movable next summer should any blockage occur, such as the drafting of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Andre Drummond instead of Bradley Beal next Thursday. Beyond that, adding two quality players who have experience in the league should add two more experienced individuals to a locker room that deeply needed more sanity and direction. What’s more, Okafor’s defensive ability allows the Wizards to make Nene a more effective defender by hiding him against many team’s worse offensive big man. Depending on his swingman partner, Ariza could do the same.
Hornets 24/7: With this trade, the deck has been cleared and the Hornets move forward with young guys on cheap contracts, two top ten picks, and the ability to retain Eric Gordon. The foundation is in place and Dell has gotten into an unbelievably flexible position where he can go in any direction he chooses. Can’t wait to see the next move.
Finally, here's an old Hornets 24/7 link arguing that Ariza curbed his shot selection this year.