Wizards Trade For Okafor, Ariza

My first thought when I saw this headline was, “PLEASE LORD DON’T LET THIS BE 2009 ALL OVER AGAIN.” Alas, Grunfeld didn’t pull another Foye-Miller. All he’s sending back to Charlotte for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza is Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in next week’s draft.

You’ll recall Okafor as the tall fellow who won a national championship at UConn. I thought Orlando should’ve taken him first overall that summer, over Dwight Howard. And while Okafor is by no means a bust (13 and 10 career averages), it’s probably a good thing I’m writing this from my couch and not someone’s front office.

And you may remember Ariza as the versatile wing who won an NBA championship with Kobe. He signed a relatively big deal after that (five years, $33 million), and I haven’t heard from him since. Again, writing this from my couch.

Lewis will be remembered by NBA fans as the guy who got a nine-figure deal without being all that great of a player. He’ll be remembered by Wiz fans as the guy we got back for Gilbert Arenas and Arenas’ equally ill-advised nine-figure contract.

The 46th pick in next week’s draft probably won’t be remembered at all.

Okafor and Ariza are owed a combined $43 million through 2014 (Lewis can be bought out for $14 million before July 1), which is costly, but I like the deal. Okafor and Ariza are solid, defense-oriented vets, and this move leads me to think the Wiz won’t be drafting Thomas Robinson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at 3.

I may be wrong about that too, but why draft a power forward (T-Rob) when you’ve already got Nene, Okafor and Seraphin, among others? And why draft a jackknife (MKG) when he can’t shoot and you’ve already got a wing to guard the perimeter?

That leaves Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes on the board. Kneel for Beal.

16 thoughts on “Wizards Trade For Okafor, Ariza”

  1. Love this trade. Maybe it’s actually a sign they WILL draft MKG, to learn behind Ariza?

    Either way, big pluses to Grunfeld on this. In one year he has shipped out the rotten (McGee, Young) and brought in solid dudes who will further bury rotten Blatche. Culture change, we haz it.

  2. Simply unloading the mind-blowing 2nd largest contract in the NBA ($22 mill) for anything — a bag of chips, a life-sized Manute poster — is a pretty sweet move. Okafor has stopped scoring but he should still be pretty stout in the paint. Ariza was probably tossed in to make the math add up. He was pretty fun to watch back in the Lakers days. Very happy. A frontline of Nene-Okafor will be pretty hardy on the glass, let them spring for a scoring 3-man.

  3. ESPN (column, comments) is hating on this trade for the Wiz but I think it’s great.

    Okafor is an expensive veteran commodity with a long contract, but the Wizards need veterans, and he’ll contribute even if he’s banged up.

    Ariza is cheaper and, again, will provide at least some value even if he’s not 100%.

    Rashard’s a cool dude, but the Wizards have basically been holding his obscene contract as the price for dumping Gilbert. Turning that into actual assets? Sounds like a huge win.

  4. Given Big Ern’s history of trades, I’ll take it. Adding two rotation players for 25 games of Rashard’s corpse and some guy who likely won’t make the team has to be a win. But rumor has it that NO was shopping one of those two with the 10th pick, which would have been a better deal and one I think could have been had by a better GM. Taking one of Okafor/Ariza and the 10th pick makes decisions in the upcoming draft much easier because it keeps MKG and T-Rob in play. Now, if Beal is taken at #2 you’re reaching for Barnes if you draft for need.

    If nothing else the Wiz could potentially be a little crowded in the front court, which isn’t the worst thing I suppose.

  5. @Phil,
    Yes, which is why this is a mind-numbingly stupid trade. Grunfeld added dead-weight salary. Why is everyone saying this gets rid of a bad contract when in fact it’s adding two?

  6. Yeah it seems like Grunfeld got rid of that awful contract just before it was finally going to be useful. Not sure how i feel about Okafor being our highest paid player for the next two seasons.

  7. This is an intermediate step rebuilding. These guys aren’t here to win the title. There here to be solid vets and leaders and hold down the fort for two years while the young guys develop. After the disaster that was having “Captain ‘Dray” and the fuck-a-teers leading the locker room, bringing in guys like this was a necessary part.

    The cap room will be there in two years, when hopefully the young core (Wall, #3 pick this year, high pick next year, maybe Veseley) is ready to be the core and we can complement instead of supplant them.

  8. This trade sucks. We give up flexibility (Lewis deal) for next year and beyond and get a dude who cant shoot (Ariza) and a guy with another big contract and a gimpy back (Okafor).

    This is Ernie trying to get a team to be a 7 seed so he can boast about making the playoffs in an effort to save his job. There is no long-term future with these two, there could be long-term potential with more cap room. Nobody says you have to use it right away, wait for the guy we want.

    All signs point to Curse of Lez Boulez

  9. After sleeping on this I have to agree with JP. This is Ernie playing for .500 and a 7 or 8 seed. This is still not a team to be reckoned with. Sure it wasn’t going to happen overnight but the option to have a ton of cap room is now gone.

    Also, can we mock Leonsis now? So much for building through the draft philosophy!

  10. I don’t like losing cap flexibility for this summer and next either, but what would the Wiz have done with it anyway? That’s an honest question, seeking a good answer.

  11. I think this is a decent trade based on the answer to Jamie’s question. They would have done nothing good with this cap space, no one wants to come to DC for basketball.

    This is a moral booster for players and fans, which is needed!! We won’t be a great team (maybe not even good) for the next couple of seasons, but we could still improve each year… This is actually a talent improvement and it should help our young guys. If we do improve and show progress, then this will help us resign players that matter and make this a more desirable destination for future free agents when we are actually ready to make that next step.

  12. Yeah I suppose this is just the Wizards’ version of prolonging the date to cap freedom while taking in some vets that can guide our young core.

    An oft injured Nene and an injury riddled Emeka Okafor = one center anyway so no overlap there!

  13. We didnt send anything to Charlotte. I dont know if you heard yet, but the Hornets now play in New Orleans. We shoulda traded for Larry Johnson.

  14. “This is a moral booster for players and fans, which is needed!”

    “Yeah I suppose this is just the Wizards’ version of prolonging the date to cap freedom while taking in some vets that can guide our young core.”

    exactly exactly exactly.

    “This is Ernie trying to get a team to be a 7 seed so he can boast about making the playoffs in an effort to save his job.”

    I understand how you could see it that way, but Ernie has job security! Dude JUST signed an extension for Christ’s sake. Leonsis has an open track record of patience and loyalty, and evidence to back it up (see GMGM).

    I’m confidence this is part of the long term “formula.”

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