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February 23, 2011

Deron Williams to the Nets: Quick Reaction

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 2:18 pm

The details aren’t all quite concrete, but the Nets and Jazz have upped the ante in what is shaping up to be an eventful deadline week. In fact, even if another major deal fails to materialize, it’s already been a league-scrambling few days. As first reported by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz have traded franchise point guard Deron Williams to the Nets for a package that includes rookie power forward Derrick Favors, former All-Star point guard Devin Harris and a pair for first-round draft picks. As an adjunct to that deal, the Nets are reportedly on the verge of sending the expiring contract of Troy Murphy to Golden State in exchange for backup center Dan Gadzuric and talented-but-underachieving forward Brandan Wright.

Kevin Pelton will check in later with a full Transaction Analysis, so for now we’ll just touch upon a couple of major themes. First, the first reaction of many in my Twitter feed is that the Nets have effectively trumped the Knicks’ acquisition of Carmelo Anthony. In terms of notoriety, that’s probably not true. The run-of-the-mill hoops fan is likely much more familiar with ‘Melo and buys into the mainstream of him as a top-five player. However, on the court, the Nets have acquired a foundation player that would have been a perfect answer for New York. There would have been no questions about D-Will’s ability to mesh with Amar’e Stoudemire, nor would there be any doubts about whether he could have run Mike D’Antoni‘s system. The Knicks would have landed a player that is younger, better and, as of now, cheaper. So the question is, did the Knicks even kick the tires on a possible Williams acquisition? If not, this is an epic fail on their part, one that has the grubby fingerprints of James Dolan written all over it.

For the Jazz, the trade signals a couple of things. They apparently did not feel like Williams was likely to extend with the team before he can opt out of his contract following next season. They chose not to wait Williams out, as the Raptors and Cavaliers tried to do with Chris Bosh and LeBron James respectively. Instead, Utah general manager Kevin O’Conner has taken the route Denver took with Anthony–he’s proactively gotten what he can, while he can. That he’s brought back Harris and an upside player in Favors plus draft picks suggests that Utah is turning the page to a post-lockout rebuilding effort. He’s now got two starting-caliber power forwards on his roster in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, plus the talented Favors. You can expect the Jazz to continue to re-shape that roster.

For the initial reaction on the Nets’ angle in this deal, I turn to colleague Sebastian Pruiti:

“It is going to be interesting to see how Avery Johnson works Deron Williams into the Nets’ system.  With Devin Harris in New Jersey, there weren’t a lot of sets being run Harris.  Harris got most of his points out of a simple 1/4 pick-and-roll or transition.  Williams is a much better all around offensive player, so you can expect to see some new sets in New Jersey.  My guess would be a few post-up sets.  Also, expect to see Williams playing some two-guard with Jordan Farmar running the point.  Johnson was doing that with Devin Harris who isn’t much of a shooter, so it would only make sense that he continues to experiment with a two point-guard lineup with Williams, who actually plays the two-guard position very well.”

Note: Be sure to check in on the site tomorrow, where myself, Sebastian, Kevin and a new contributor (tune in tomorrow to find out–we’re excited) will be conducting a live chat up to and past the deadline. I’ll be hanging out at the United Center for the Heat shootaround in the morning in advance of tomorrow’s big game between the Heat and Bulls, so there should be plenty to discuss.

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