Hornets Trade Okafor, Ariza to Wizards for Lewis, Draft Pick

The Hornets traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Rashard Lewis, opening space on the New Orleans roster for possible No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis.

New Orleans also received the 46th pick in next week’s National Basketball Association draft, the team said in an e-mailed news release.

“We’re rebuilding our team and this is one step in our new direction,” Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said in a statement. “This trade will provide an opportunity for our young players to develop and create flexibility to add to our core group.”

The Hornets are planning to waive Lewis, a forward, before July 1 to avoid paying roughly $10 million of the $24 million he is owed in 2012-13, ESPN reported, citing unidentified people close to the process. A two-time All-Star, 32-year-old Lewis has averaged 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 14 NBA seasons.

The moves clear space on the Hornets roster for Davis, a forward projected by analysts to be the top pick in the draft after being named the Associated Press men’s college basketball Player of the Year in March.

The Hornets finished the lockout-shortened season with a 21-45 record, the lowest win total in the Western Conference. They won the draft lottery on May 30 and will pick first at the June 28 event.

Ariza, a 26-year-old forward, started all 116 games he played for the Hornets, averaging 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists over two years. The 29-year-old Okafor, a center, has averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds during in his eight-year career.

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