The first substantial trade of the NBA off-season has been made with the Washington Wizards shipping Rashard Lewis to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for Emeka Okafor and former Laker Trevor Ariza. Along with acquiring Lewis, the Hornets will also receive the 48th pick of the second round in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft to go along with the 1st and 10th picks in the first round.
At first, this trade looks fairly ridiculous for New Orleans with the Hornets taking on Lewis’ enormous contract of $24 million for next season. Even though it appears to be a bad move by New Orleans at first glance, it’s actually quite brilliant with the Hornets having the opportunity to buyout the veteran forward before July 1 for roughly $14 million, making him an unrestricted free agent.
As of right now, the consensus is that the Hornets will simply buy out Lewis and ultimately save $30 million as a result of the trade, while opening up two roster spots for incoming rookies and or free agents. The Hornets are projected to take Kentucky’s Anthony Davis with the number one overall pick and another solid prospect with the 10th pick.
Once Lewis hits the free agent market, the lucrative contracts of the past will be no more for the sharp shooter as he will most likely only be able to sign with interested teams for the veteran’s minimum. With that being said, the Los Angeles Lakers might be willing to add him to the bench next season according to Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld.com via Twitter:
It is HIGHLY doubtful Rashard Lewis goes back to Orlando… watch the Lakers and Houston.
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 20, 2012
Obviously, Lewis isn’t the dominant player he once was during his time with the Seattle Super Sonics and the Orlando Magic. The two-time All-Star’s best days as one of the highest paid players in the NBA and an offensive force to be reckoned with on the basketball floor are behind him, but he still has some value as a sixth man or role player off the bench with the ability to stretch the defense.
If Lewis is willing to take the veteran’s minimum to play in Los Angeles, the Lakers will almost certainly take a look at signing the 32-year-old to improve the team’s outside shooting and scoring off the bench.