The last remaining Hornet from the pre-Dell Demps era has been traded away, along with first guy the GM acquired.
The Hornets have finally unloaded center Emeka Okafor. Okafor, as well, as forward Trevor Ariza, are heading to the Washington Wizards in return forward Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in this year’s draft.
The Hornets have been looking to dump Ariza and Okafor for some time now, and recently there has been talk of them attaching one or both of these bad contracts to the tenth pick in an effort to get rid of them. Instead the team simply traded both of them for one, shorter bad contract.
Rashard Lewis is scheduled to be paid $23.8 million this season, but only $13.7 million is guaranteed. The Hornets will likely pay only the guaranteed part, and let Lewis walk. In essence, this trade will free up about $7 million dollars in cap room this season and give the Hornets a 2nd round pick that can either be used as an asset in another deal or to select a player that the team can stash for a couple of years.
The big savings in this deal comes next year, where it clears over 22 million dollars off the books for an off-season that will feature Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, James Harden and others as free agents. Imagine CP3 coming back to New Orleans? EWWWWWWW-EEEEEE!
As of right now, Jason Smith and Gustavo Ayon are the only big men under contract now for next season. Obviously the Hornets will select Anthony Davis with the first pick, but that still leaves the door wide open for a starting caliber big man to be plucked out of free agency or targeted in the draft.
Chris Kaman could be re-signed. There is also Omer Asik, JaVale McGee, Robin Lopez, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, and Spencer Hawes on the free agent market that could be targeted. As for the small forward position, Al-Farouq Aminu could get a shot to show whether or not he is the guy that can hold down the position long-term. He is only 21 and flashed some signs of life late in the season. A full training camp with Coach Monty Williams and the staff could do him wonders.
With this trade, the deck has been cleared to move forward with young players on cheap contracts, two top ten picks, and the ability to retain restricted free agent Eric Gordon. The foundation is in place and the franchise has gotten into an unbelievably flexible position where they can go in any direction he chooses.