Per Draft Express: Hornets Trade Okafor and Ariza for Rashard Lewis

Published: June 20, 2012

The last remaining Hornet from the Pre-Demps era and the first guy he acquired are gone. Rashard Lewis is soon to follow 

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express is reporting that the Hornets have finally unloaded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in this year’s draft. The Hornets have been looking to dump Ariza and Okafor for some time now, and recently there has been talk of them attaching one or both of these bad contracts to the tenth pick in an effort to get rid of them. Thankfully, they simply traded them for one, shorter bad contract instead.

Rashard Lewis is scheduled to be paid 23.8 million this season, but only 13.7 million is guaranteed. The Hornets will likely pay only the guaranteed part, and let Lewis walk. In essence, this trade will free up about 7 million dollars in cap room this season and give the Hornets a 2nd round pick that can either be used as an asset in another deal or to select a foreign player that the Hornets can stash for a couple of years. The big savings in this deal comes next year, where it clears over 22 million dollars off the books for an off-season that will feature Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, James Harden and others as free agents.

The deal also opens the door for the Hornets to bring Chris Kaman back this summer or to select another big man with the tenth pick in the draft. As of right now, Jason Smith and Gustavo Ayon are the only big men under contract for next season. Obviously the Hornets will select Anthony Davis with the first pick, but that still leaves the door wide open for a starting caliber big man to be plucked out of free agency or targeted in the drafted.

Outside of Kaman, Omer Asik, JaVale McGee, Robin Lopez, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, and Spencer Hawes are all free agents that the Hornets could target this summer. As for small forward, it seems as if the Hornets are willing to give Aminu a full year to show whether or not he is the guy that can hold down the position long-term. He is only 21 and showed signs of life late in the season. A full training camp with Williams and the staff could do him wonders.

The Hornets now have nobody remaining on the roster that Dell Demps inherited, as Okafor was the only hold over. Ironically, Ariza was the first player acquired by General Manager Dell Demps when he arrived. 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.


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