In Exchange Wizards Get Okafor, Ariza
The Washington Wizards recently traded Rashard Lewis, sending him and the No. 46 selection in the upcoming NBA Draft to the New Orleans Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. The franchise was concerned about the prospect of keeping the second-highest paid player in the NBA on their roster for another season if he stayed beyond the end of June.
Lewis was not a part of the Wizards' plans going into the next season, and they needed to find a willing trade partner or give him a $13.7 million buyout by June 30. Instead of paying Lewis not to play for them, the Wizards chose to use that money on Okafor, the No. 2 pick of the 2004 NBA draft, and Ariza who won a championship ring in 2009 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We are pleased to add two more solid pieces as we continue to build our roster with a balance of proven veterans and the core of young talent that we have developed," said team president Ernie Grunfeld. Emeka's defensive presence and rebounding ability will combine with Trevor's versatility to add new dimensions to our frontcourt, and both players fit in very well with the type of team-first culture that we have been working to establish."
Okafor, 29, averaged 9.9 points and 7.9 rebounds last season, but was limited to only 27 games and a left knee injury caused him to miss the final three months of the season. Ariza, 26, has played with five different teams during his seven-year career, including, New York, Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston, and New Orleans. He has career averages of nine points and 4.4 rebounds. Last year, he averaged 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Lewis had a disappointing stint as a Wizard, after arriving in a December 2010 deal that sent Gilbert Arenas to Orlando. Last season he only averaged 7.8 points which was his worst season since his rookie year.
Now that Okafor's on the roster, it 's unlikely that the Wizards will select Kansas forward and D.C. native Thomas Robinson with the No. 3 pick in the June 28 NBA draft. Adding Ariza to the squad could indicate that Washington is interested in Florida shooting Bradley Beal, but they could also be looking at Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes. Both are small forwards who could also play in the backcourt, and neither would have to start immediately.