Wizards-Hornets Trade: Washington Kills Spacing and Cap Space for Marginal Gains

Rob Mahoney@RobMahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 20, 2012

In one deft move, the Washington Wizards have locked themselves into the worst offensive spacing in the NBA

Sayeth (reported by) Jonathan Givony of Draft Express:

New Orleans trades Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for Rashard Lewis and the #46 pick. (damn you auto-correct)

— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 20, 2012

Not only have the Wiz so willingly muddled-up their salary-cap picture by adding a fairly massive amount of salary over the next two seasons, but they've acquired a competent big man who isn't at all compatible with their incumbent—and superior—big man. And they've also netted a wing player capable of completely trapping the Washington offense within the confines of the three-point arc.

With all of the 2011-2012 Wizards' decent three-point shooters traded away, likely to be gone this summer or shoved down on the depth chart, Washington has positioned itself for a truly revolutionary level of court-clogging. Nene is theoretically versatile enough to create some sense of order in Washington's half-court offense, but his ability to consistently work alongside a player with Okafor's limited offensive skill set is certainly an open question.

It obviously remains to be seen how Randy Wittman will go about utilizing Okafor. But assuming that Ernie Grunfeld made this trade in order to bolster the Wizards' immediate rotation, it feels safe to say that we'll see plenty of cluttered basketball in Washington in the season to come.

This trade doesn't come with a crippling risk, but Washington's efforts to shuffle its way into the playoffs with a mismatched veteran core aren't very likely to pay off in a way that behooves the team's long-term interests. This is certainly a more constructive team core than what we've seen from the Wiz in recent seasons, but Washington has sacrificed its potential flexibility down the line in a confusing aim to marginally improve. The pressure to push toward the postseason and appease John Wall must be a powerful one indeed. But the Wizards have let that pressure get in the way of their own construction.

It can be incredibly difficult to build along a steadier path. But Washington could have at least afforded itself the option to be a player in 2013 free agency, rather than burning that chance for a big man the team doesn't have a straightforward way to use and a swingman with a tendency for running offenses aground.