February 1, 2011; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Hornets small forward Trevor Ariza (1) steals the ball from Washington Wizards power forward Rashard Lewis (9) during the first quarter at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

New Orleans acquires Wizards' Rashard Lewis, 46th pick

The New Orleans Hornets acquired Washington’s Rashard Lewis and the 46th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft according to Draft Express. New Orleans will gain about $2 million in cap space with the deal, though that amount will be essentially offset by their future savings and the likely buyout of Lewis’ contract.

New Orleans will cut $10 million of the $24 million Lewis is owed if they buyout his contract before July 1st, according to ESPN. This gives New Orleans an immense amount of cap relief to pursue free agents to build around Anthony Davis next summer. Both Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor have two years remaining on their contracts (Ariza’s second year is a player option worth approximately $7.7 million).

Assuming they retain Eric Gordon and draft a valuable rotation player with the No. 10 pick (say Andre Drummond, Damon Lillard or Dion Waiters), New Orleans suddenly has an impressive core and flexibility to improve their foundation further.

Washington, on the other hand, improves this season but not without hampering their immediate future. I don’t necessarily approve of their decision to acquire older players with bigger contracts — which is exactly the worst kind of contract imaginable — but they do set themselves up with a decent core of John Wall, Bradley Beal (presumably), Nene, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Jan Vesely. Sure, they won’t have any chance of improving via free agency but, at the very least, they’ve given themselves some room to succeed this year.

For what it’s worth, the ESPN NBA Trade Machine predicts this deal will add three wins to Washington’s total while subtracting four from New Orleans.

Keep in mind that the Trade Machine isn’t factoring Davis’ acquisition, who seems to be a pretty good player …

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Tags: Emeka Okafor New Orleans Hornets Rashard Lewis Trevor Ariza Washington Wizards

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