Nets Strike Deal With Jazz For Williams

The New Jersey Nets won themselves the crown for “best trade deadline performance of the year” earlier today. After a lengthy pursuit of Carmelo Anthony went by the wayside yesterday as the Denver forward was traded to the New York Knicks, the Nets got right back into the swing of things and banged out a deal within 24 hours that will land them one of the league’s three best point guards.

The Nets will receive all-star point guard Deron Williams from the Jazz in return for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first round picks. The Golden State Warriors are also involved as they will receive forward Troy Murphy, who will almost certainly be bought out, while dealing away a pick to the Nuggets and Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright to the Warriors.

The Nets were lucky to lose out on Melo for a number of reasons. First off, they were about to trade Devin Harris, rookie forward Derrick Favors, guards Anthony Morrow, Ben Uzoh, Stephen Graham and Quinton Ross to Denver with an unbelievable four first round picks to acquire Anthony. Because Denver refuesed that offer, New Jersey only had to give up Harris and Favors, didn’t have to take back any of Denver’s cap fillers and got to keep a pair of their picks, all for a better player.

Secondly, after so many Nets-Denver deals were reported as close to done, the Knicks had to up their offer to an extreme level and are now left with little to no depth on their roster. The Nets’ were bluffing and they got the Nuggets to raise before folding the hand and drawing a pair of aces on the next hand.

During the Nuggets’ press conference yesterday about Carmelo, Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said that no deal with New Jersey was ever close, which means the Nets (and Nuggets) truly did play the Knicks for the fools that Isiah Thomas and James Dolan are.

New Jersey got themselves quite the talent at a cheap price tag considering what the Knicks gave up for Carmelo. Williams is a superstar and despite his struggles in Utah this season, which were mostly due to his disconnect with the coaching staff, he is still a top three point guard in the NBA along with Chris Paul and Derrick Rose when he is playing at his highest level. He gives the Nets a true floor general, a point guard capable of setting up his teammates for 44 minute before dominating the final four with his excellent jumpshot and innate ability to find the lane.

Williams is a great, great player and the fact that he was traded was shocking to me. Most people with knowledge of the situation in Utah believed that Jerry Sloan wanted the franchise to commit to Williams or to trade him. Sloan then retired, so, naturally, the belief was that they had committed to Williams. With both Sloan and Williams out now, it’s hard to understand what exactly the mindset was for the Jazz when they made this deal.

Though I do not think the Jazz decided to trade Williams simply because he, possibly, forced Sloan out, I do believe there is a chance that the Utah front office stuck it to Williams by trading him to the Nets. When you look at what they got in return for Williams – Harris, a solid point guard but a complementary piece not a leader, and Favors, who is a big unknown at this point – they really didn’t get anything special. I find it hard to believe that the Orlando Magic wouldn’t have offered up Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson and one of their forwards with picks in exchange for Williams or that the Lakers wouldn’t have offered up Andrew Bynum, Shannon Brown and picks.

If the Jazz didn’t intend to stick Williams in the worst situation possible while getting some valuable assets back, then they made a mistake, here. They could have gotten so much more for Deron Williams, even from the Nets, who were willing to pay a lot more for Carmelo Anthony, who is below Williams on the totem poll of NBA superstars. Either of those potential deals I mentioned above would be much better than what they got from New Jersey and I’m just throwing names out there.

The Jazz will still compete in the West. Harris is a serviceable replacement and their supporting cast is still relatively good with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. But they did not do themselves justice in terms of what they got in return for their franchise player.

The Nets clearly won the deal, but they are still not a playoff team, which is perhaps the caveat to all of the excitement I had when I heard another blockbuster had gone down. Williams and Brook Lopez is a nice start towards a successful franchise but Lopez is having an awful third year end up not being on the level of a second option on a good team. Williams is an amazing lead guard but he isn’t going to be lifting this cast of characters that New Jersey has to the post-season this year and they will need some major work over the summer if they are going to compete next season.

They’ll have the cap room and one of the game’s best point guards to attract free agents as well as the enticing proposition of playing in Brooklyn to offer to NBA stars, but then again there’s no guarantee that Williams will be staying in town. According to multiple reports, Williams is furious about this deal – which is another sign that the Jazz were trying to set him up in a bad scenario, though it may turn out to be meaningless – and his contract only lasts until next season. He can’t sign an extension until this summer and judging by his current mood and what assets he’ll be playing with, Williams will probably test the market.

New Jersey was not in the wrong for making this deal, obviously. But in order for the success of this deal to translate into on-court success they’ll need to convince Williams to stay in town and attract themselves some star caliber players to play with Deron. Until then, Williams will likely be wishing for the days with Jerry Sloan coaching him – back when he was playing with a pretty good team that was in the thick of the playoff race in the West – while Avery Johnson screams at him for not running the offense correctly with Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow at his side.

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Mark is an 18-year old sports fanatic that founded this website back in October of 2008. He is the lead contributor for this site and a credentialed member of the media for several sports leagues and organizations. Mark's main focus is the NBA, though he also covers MLB, NFL, and International events like the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Follow Mark on Twitter: @Mark_Travis

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