Wizards Make Trade, Tumble Towards Mediocrity

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06: Emeka Okafor #50 of the New Orleans Hornets dunks the ball during the game against the Denver Nuggets at the New Orleans Arena on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Wizards and Hornets kicked off the trading season before the Finals even got a chance to wrap up. The Hornets dumped boatloads of cash and the Wizards, well, they may have upgraded to mediocre.

Analyzing the Hornets-Wizards trade | The Point Forward

Okafor and Ariza are overpaid and both have two years left on their deals, with a combined salary of $20.8 million next season and $22.2 million in 2013-14. But they are very good defenders and generally useful veterans (more than useful, in Okafor’s case), and the Hornets have traded them to Washington for Rashard Lewis, who may never play a game for them. New Orleans is expected to buy out the 32-year-old forward’s partially guaranteed expiring deal (worth about $23 million) for huge cap savings.

On one hand, I can see what the Wiz are trying to do. They added veterans to a young core and it wasn't like they were going to use that cap space to attract big ticket free agents anyway. Still, those guys are maybe good enough to get you a first round exit in the playoffs, which is a no-man's-land that no team wants to be in.

On another front, I wonder if this trade will kick things off leading up to the draft. Perhaps other teams were trying to get some of these pieces and will have to turn elsewhere now. Ainge is likely to get creative and has cap room to offer (instead of just a expiring contract like Lewis). Hopefully if Washington can get good, overpaid guys for a salary dump, the Celtics can get good, not-as-overpaid guys for the same. Or something like that. Hey, before you judge, consider that we could have used a guy like Okafor this year on the court (if not on the salary cap).

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