The Washington Wizards are an intriguing team. They have talent, but they haven’t been able to turn that talent into wins. They started to re-make their roster last season, grabbing Nene from the Nuggets for JaVale McGee in a deal that also sent Nick Young to the Clippers.
Now, the Wizards are making more moves, sending Rashard Lewis and a second round pick for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor.
Okafor and Ariza are owed a combined $43 million through 2013-14 and are expected to provide an added veteran presence for a team that currently has seven players with less than three years of experience and will add two more rookies in the draft, with picks No. 3 and No. 32.
The Hornets take on one monster salary that will go away after this season (perhaps leading to a future trade for someone looking to clear cap space) while the Wizards grab a couple of capable players who, if expectations are tempered, can play decent roles. With John Wall, Nene, Jan Vesely along with Ariza, Okafor and, it’s believed, Bradley Beal at the #3 pick, the Wizards hope to go from “young and maybe exciting” to “young, exciting, and fighting for the playoffs.
This move along doesn’t put the Wizards over the top or make them a playoff team, but it gets them closer. Lewis is useless, and I’d rather have Okafor, a guy who is a decent defender and rebounder, and Ariza, also a decent defender, they have two guys who can contribute on the defensive end. From there, they hope Wall’s athleticism and freedom to work in a Young/McGee/Blatche-less system will help him. He did improve post-trade this past season, so there’s hope that can continue.
At the very least, it should make the Wizards a tougher matchup when they roll into town, and it’s worth watching how this will all play out in Washington.