The New Orleans Hornets have agreed to trade center Emeka Okafor and swingman Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards for forward Rashard Lewis and a second-round pick in next week's draft, a league source confirmed.
The Hornets will part with two starters but create more financial flexibility in the trade. Okafor and Ariza will make a combined $43 million through 2014. Lewis is owed close to $23 million next season but he can be bought out for $13.95 million before July 1. Lewis' agent, Tony Dutt, said he would meet with Hornets general manager Dell Demps next week to discuss the possible buyout but that he has not been given an indication of what the team will do. Lewis, 32, averaged a career-low 7.8 points and shot only 38.5 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from three-point range in 28 games before a knee injury ended his season in late February.
New Orleans will acquire the No. 46 pick in the June 28 draft from Washington. The Hornets also own the Nos. 1 and 10 selections. They are expected to use the first pick on Kentucky big man Anthony Davis, who could immediately provide the defense and rebounding that Okafor supplied for the last three years in New Orleans after arriving from Charlotte in a trade for Tyson Chandler.
"We are rebuilding our team and this is one step in our new direction," Demps told The Associated Press. "This trade will provide an opportunity for our young players to develop and create flexibility to add to our core group moving forward."
For the Wizards, the move continues a makeover that began at the trade deadline when they acquired veteran center Nene and dealt center JaVale McGee and shooting guard Nick Young. Okafor, 29, and Ariza, 26, are defensive-minded eight-year veterans who have been among the league leaders in blocks and steals, respectively.
"We felt like we needed to add some veterans to the roster, and we were able to do that with this move. ... We get players that are good solid players and fill two needs for us," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld told the AP. "Instead of going into free agency to try to fill our needs, we did it through a trade."
Okafor played only 27 games this season because of a knee injury. The eight-year veteran has career averages of 12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Ariza, who will be joining his sixth team, averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists this season. He shot only 39.8 percent and 41.7 percent from the field in his two seasons with the Hornets, who obtained him from Houston as part of a four-team trade in August 2010.
The Hornets-Wizards trade was first reported by DraftExpress.