emeka okafor

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired forwards Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for forward Rashard Lewis and the 46th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

“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 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.”

“First, we want to thank Emeka and Trevor for their service on and off the court for our organization. Both of those gentlemen are good players and better people that will be missed,” General Manager Dell Demps said. “We are rebuilding our team and this is one step in our new direction. This trade will provide an opportunity for our young players to develop and create flexibility to add to our core group moving forward.”

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Okafor is due $28 million over the next two seasons. Although Lewis is one of the highest paid players in the league, he has one-year remaining on his contract at that $23.7 million. Sources say the Hornets and Lewis are working on a buyout and Lewis likely won’t play for the team this season… Ariza has two years remaining on his existing contract, which includes a player option in 2013-14 that would pay him $7.7 million if he exercise the option.”

According to ESPN.com, “The move, meanwhile, sheds two long-term contracts from the Hornets’ payroll while opening up minutes, through Okafor’s departure, for Kentucky star Anthony Davis, who almost assuredly will be selected No. 1 overall by New Orleans in next Thursday’s draft. The Hornets, sources say, are planning to waive Lewis before July 1 to slice roughly $10 million off the $24 million that he is owed in 2012-13. With the resultant financial flexibility, New Orleans is confident in its ability to re-sign restricted free agent Eric Gordon this summer to ensure it doesn’t lose the best player it received in exchange for face-of-the-franchise Chris Paul in December.”

Okafor (6-10, 255) holds career averages of 12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting .517 from the field in 511 career games over eight seasons between Charlotte and New Orleans.  The former second overall pick was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2005 and was one of three players (joining Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard) to average a double-double from 2004-05 to 2008-09.  He has averaged at least 10 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks in seven of his eight NBA seasons and has shot at least 53 percent from the field in the last six consecutive seasons.  Okafor averaged 9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting .533 from the field in 27 games for the Hornets last season.

trevor ariza

Ariza (6-8, 210) holds career averages of 9.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 499 games over eight seasons with New York, Orlando, L.A. Lakers, Houston and New Orleans.  Over the last three seasons, he has averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting .323 from three-point range with the Rockets and Hornets.  Ariza helped lead the Lakers to the 2009 NBA Championship, contributing 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting .476 from beyond the arc in 23 games (all starts) during their title run.  Last season, he averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting .333 from three-point range in 41 games for the Hornets.

Lewis averaged 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 60 games for the Wizards.  He was originally acquired from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Gilbert Arenas on Dec. 18, 2010.  The Wizards originally acquired the 46th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft from Dallas along with Ronny Turiaf, a 2013 second round pick and cash considerations from New York in a three-team deal on Dec. 10, 2011.

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