The New Orleans Hornets traded forward Trevor Ariza and center Emeka Okafor to the Washington Wizards Wednesday for forward Rashard Lewis and a second-round draft pick.
Lewis is entering the last season of a $118 million, six-year contract and could be a candidate for the NBA’s amnesty clause, meaning he may not end up playing for the Hornets if New Orleans chooses to cut him to clear space under the salary cap.
“We are rebuilding our team and this is one step in our new direction,’’ Hornets general manager Dell Demps said. “This trade will provide an opportunity for our young players to develop and create flexibility to add to our core group moving forward.’’
Said Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld: “Rashard unfortunately was injured while he was with us, and he didn’t get an opportunity to show the kinds of things he was capable of doing. He had a very hefty buyout in his contract, and we elected to add a couple of players to the roster by using his contract.’’
Grunfeld said the Wizards would have had to pay a $13.7 million buyout.
New Orleans also receives the 46th pick in this year’s draft, which originally belonged to Dallas.
The Hornets, who are expected to take Kentucky star Anthony Davis with the top overall draft pick and also have the 10th selection, did not have a second-round pick before the trade. Washington, meanwhile, has the third overall pick and still has the second pick of the second round.
Grunfeld said the deal won’t have any effect on the team’s draft plans.
“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,’’ he said. “Instead of going into free agency to try to fill our needs, we did it through a trade.’’
Okafor, the former UConn star, has never lived up to being the second pick in the 2004 draft, but has averaged double figures in points (12.7) and rebounds (10.1) during his career. Last season, however, he averaged a career-low 9.9 points and 7.9 rebounds and missed time with a sore left knee.
Ariza averaged 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds, but was deactivated for the last few weeks of the season while the Hornets, already well out of playoff contention, took a closer look at younger players on the roster.
Grunfeld said Ariza and Wizards point guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, played together in a pickup game in Los Angeles Wednesday.
“We think we’re a better team today than we were yesterday,’’ Grunfeld said, “but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.’’
The Charlotte Bobcats formally introduced Mike Dunlap as the fifth coach in the franchise’s eight-year history and immediately began talking about changing the franchise’s culture of losing.
The Bobcats finished 7-59 last season for the worst winning percentage in NBA history, and chose not to renew the contract of Paul Silas after the season ended.
“After going through the process, we really felt strongly that this is the right guy to take us into the future,’’ president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said.
The Bobcats interviewed 10 candidates for the post and brought back three for second interviews - Dunlap, Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder.
Dunlap, 54, spent last season as an assistant at St. John’s and ran the program while coach Steve Lavin battled prostate cancer.
Hennigan is Magic GM
Thunder assistant general manager Rob Hennigan, 30, was named general manager of the Orlando Magic. His hiring makes him the youngest GM in the league. Hennigan, a Worcester native, played at St. John’s of Shrewsbury and is the all-time leading scorer at Emerson College.
“It is with great enthusiasm and optimism that we announce Rob Hennigan as our new general manager,’’ said Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins. “We feel he is an outstanding fit and the right choice to lead our basketball operations team in achieving our championship goals.’’
The Magic parted ways with former GM Otis Smith and fired coach Stan Van Gundy in May after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
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