The Wizards' organization came out of left field today with a trade sending Rashard Lewis and the number 46th overall pick in this year's draft to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange fo Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.
Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld held a conference call with members of the media to discuss the trade; and the one word that everyone left with was versatility.
Grunfeld repeatedly used the word to describe the two "young veterans" especially when talking about Ariza, who were made official today around 4PM.
With the trade, most suspect that the Wizards will be going for Bradley Beal in the draft next Thursday, but Grunfeld was mum on the subject.
"It doesn't affect the draft for us at all...I think we have some very good choices and I think we're going to get a player that's going to be with us for quite some time," said Grunfeld.
He also reiterated the fact that everything is dependent on who the Hornets and Bobcats select with their number one and two picks, respectively. He wasn't too specific about matters on the NBA draft, but did mention that there would be a lot of competition over the summer in fighting for game minutes.
"Next year we'll have nine players on our roster who are on an initial rookie contract...everybody has to earn every position on this team. It's going to be a good competitive type of situation."
In addition, Grunfeld thought that the two players seemed to be a good mold for the team in the fact that they continue to gain some veteran presence but still have some quickness about them as Ariza is only 26 and Okafor is 29. The Wizards acquired Nene at the trade deadline last season and Ernie was impressed with how a veteran presence affected the young players on the squad.
"I think it showed last season that young players play better when they have veterans around them."
The trade came just before the NBA Draft but while the NBA Finals are still being played out. Some criticized him for not waiting until next off season to chase some of the bigger name free agents, but Grunfeld was quick to defend the decision.
"You never know with free agency if you're going to get someone to sign with you and you never know what the price is going to be. We felt like we could get two players at two positions that we wanted to fill at a good price."
As for Rashard? The contract and lack of performance obviously plagued the Wizards and a buyout was expected by some on his contract. Grunfeld noted that he wanted to get something for Rashard instead of just having to eat the money. And with what the Hornets were offering, now was the time to pull the trigger.
Overall, the trade gives the Wizards some depth at the forward and center positions, and if used appropriately, could really do some defensive damage against the Eastern Conference.
Even Carl Landry thought so when he tweeted: "The #Wizards now look like a playoff team in the #East."
While that remains to be seen, it's not too shabby of a move from the organization.