This year's NBA season may be winding to a close, but that doesn't mean the fun is over. The trade market is heating up every minute, and we've already seen a swap between the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Hornets.
Time to head over to the report card and see how the trade grades out.
New Orleans Hornets
Give Up: Trevor Ariza (forward), Emeka Okafor (center)
Receive: Rashard Lewis (forward), 2012 second-round pick (46th)
I really like this trade for New Orleans. Lewis will have a marginal impact at best, but this trade is a great salary swap for the Hornets.
All three players have bad contracts, but Okafor and Ariza are signed through the 2013/2014 NBA season, whereas Lewis is only signed through next season (and could be amnestied if need be). Dumping Ariza and Okafor not only helps give New Orleans the cap flexibility it needs to re-sign restricted free agent Eric Gordon, but it also opens up more time for young players such as Al-Farouq Aminu.
While both Ariza and Okafor are solid players, they're grossly overpaid and don't fit into GM Dell Demp's plan of building a young core starring Anthony Davis. If all goes well, New Orleans will be looking at a nucleus of Davis, Gordon and whoever it lands with this year's 10th pick, which is pretty incredible considering the team's fairly bleak outlook following the Chris Paul trade.
Who won the Hornets-Wizards Trade?
New Orleans Hornets Grade: A-
Give Up: Rashard Lewis (forward), 2012 second-round pick (46th)
Receive: Trevor Ariza (forward), Emeka Okafor (center)
The Wizards are a team going in a very different direction than New Orleans. Unlike the Hornets, who are surrounding their future superstar with young players to grow together, the Wizards have traded youngsters JaVale McGee and Nick Young for solid veterans such as Nene, Okafor and Ariza.
GM Ernie Grunfeld is trying his best to appease John Wall by surrounding him with more competent, steady players. It's not a horrible idea per se—Wall is a potential superstar and clearly couldn't grow alongside McGee and Young.
The problem is that Grunfeld has sacrificed all remnants of cap flexibility in order to do so. The Wizards are essentially locked into this team for the next two years.
If Wall takes a huge leap this year, and Nene and Okafor are able to fit well together (both big ifs), the Wizards could maybe, maybe, compete for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That's not worth mortgaging the future for.
In a league where teams want to be really, really good or really, really bad, the Wizards may be in that dreaded middle ground. While the Wizards probably got the best players in this trade, they sacrificed a hefty chunk of the future to do so.
Washington Wizards Grade: D+