The Hornets have sent center Emeka Okafor and forward Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards for forward Rashard Lewis and Washington’s second-round pick (No. 46) in next week’s draft.
Okafor was set to make nearly $28 million the next two seasons, including $13.5 million this season. Ariza, who sat on the bench in favor of younger players at the end of this past season, was due $7.25 million this upcoming year and has a player option for 2013-14.
The Hornets are expected to buy out Lewis’ contract for $13, which they can do prior to July 1.
“First, we want to thank Emeka and Trevor for their service on and off the court for our organization,” Hornets general manager Dell Demps said. “Both of those gentlemen are good players and better people that will be missed. We are rebuilding our team and this is one step in our new direction.
“This trade will provide an opportunity for our young players to develop and create flexibility to add to our core group moving forward.”
The move would save the Hornets nearly $8 million this season and a potential $30 million over the next two seasons.
The NBA website DraftExpress first reported the trade via Twitter.
Okafor played only 27 games this past season, sitting for good after New Orleans’ Feb. 10 game against Portland. Ariza, meanwhile, sat the final 10 games as coach Monty Williams preferred to give younger players a chance to play.
New Orleans owns the No. 1, 10 and now 46th pick in next Thursday’s draft.
The Hornets are expected to name Kentucky forward/center Anthony Davis the top pick.