Hmmm… From a basketball sense, I can see how this trade makes the Wizards better but that is about where the nice things to be said end. Running an NBA team in today’s world requires not only evaluating talent but evaluating VALUE of that talent. Managing the salary cap involves not overpaying for players who only fill a role. While I love the pairing of Okefor and Nene (acquired at the trade deadline) and the potential for improvement along their front line I cannot see how adding another overpaid (he is paid like an all-star and he simply is not one) big man is prudent when taking value into account. I can see how the Wizards defense is going to be improved. On paper I can understand the talent but from a world view, the Wizards should have been able to get additional picks back in return for taking on this kind of salary.
One of the major criticisms of of the deal seems to be that they have lost their cap flexibility for signing free agents for the next two years, but more than that it is the ability to make trades with teams looking to give away picks packaged with salary. It is worth noting that the Wizards do already have several young players who were 1st rd picks (and they are likely to add Bradley Beal – who addresses a major need on the wing – on draft day) so an influx of youth isn’t necessarily the goal. The criticism is that the Wizards could have, and should have, gotten more for an ultra valuable asset.
New Orleans benefits here through addition by subtraction. While they lose an anchor in the middle by trading Okefor they do clear up an large amount of cap space going forward. Trading Trevor Ariza – whose deal is not small either – is an extra bonus. From a position standpoint, Okefor is a little it of a tweener; and he certainly isn’t worth his cap number. While his pairing with Anthony Davis would have provided a solid defensive front it would have been sorely lacking in offensive potential. Let’s not overlook the real story here though: the Hornets are able to dump two huge contracts without having to give up any draft pick assets.
This is clearly a win for the Hornets going forward and they did not have to reduce their asset cache to do it. They still will pick at #1 and #10 and they now can re-sign Eric Gordon without worry about total team salary. The real test for the Hornets’ management will be how they use the cap space – specifically: how much they sign their young, under-sized SG for. It is my opinion that while he is talented, he is NOT a superstar and should not be paid more than $8M per season, especially not coming off an injury. To do so would be to ignore how value plays into building an NBA roster.