No ‘Melo, no problem – Nets get D-Will

24 Feb

Another day, another blockbuster trade in the NBA.

A day after Carmelo Anthony was dealt to the New York Knicks, Utah Jazz PG Deron Williams is headed to the New Jersey Nets.

It was known for well over a year that ‘Melo wanted to leave Denver for the Knicks, so his trade to New York is a little anticlimactic. It wasn’t a question of if he would be traded, it was simply when and for whom.

But the Williams trade is a shocker. Just two weeks ago, it appeared that Jazz’ management was committed to building the franchise around Williams, after legendary coach Jerry Sloan strangely and suddenly resigned the day after a dispute with Williams. It was logical for the team to choose its 26-year-old superstar over the Hall-of-Fame coach, who at 68, was near the end of his career.

The New Jersey Nets were deemed “the losers” of the Carmelo trade, after offering much more than the Knicks, and still not landing him after he refused to sign an extension with the Nets.

This was just another rejection, after the allure of playing for (Nets co-owners) Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z – or being the centrepiece of a team soon moving to Brooklyn – wasn’t enough to convince LeBron James, or any other big name free-agent, to sign with New Jersey last summer.

But now Deron Williams is a Net.

In the last five seasons (including this season) Williams has averaged 18.9 points and 10.1 assists per game. Only Chris Paul (19.2 PPG, 10.4 APG) and Steve Nash (16.9 PPG, 10.9 APG) have had as impressive numbers over that time span. Williams is also a big-time playoff performer. In 44 post-season games, Williams has put up 21.1 PPG and 9.6 APG, and each time the Jazz have been eliminated, it’s been by the eventual Western Conference champions.

Unlike Carmelo Anthony, Williams wasn’t going to be a free-agent this offseason, so the fear that he will bolt to another team isn’t there. While he can leave after next season, a new collective bargaining agreement will probably enable the Nets to offer him the best contract, keeping him in New Jersey.

In exchange for Williams, the Nets sent PG Devin Harris, PF Derrick Favors (last year’s third-overall pick), two first-round draft picks and $3 million to Utah. It isn’t always the best idea to trade away first-round picks when you’re rebuilding a team – especially when at least one of them will probably be a lottery pick  – but this deal was a no brainer for the Nets. In the NBA, success is dictated by superstars. Adding a bona fide superstar like Deron Williams can change a bottom-feeder (like the Nets) into a playoff team, or a playoff team into a title-contender (see: Gasol, Pau). The Nets have too many losses to seriously compete for a playoff spot this year, but they are considerably better than they were before the trade.

Last week, reports had the Nets trading Harris, Favors, two other players and four first-round picks to Denver for Carmelo Anthony. The Nets should be happy that ‘Melo wanted to play for the Knicks.

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