Net Gain - Jazz Trade Williams To Jersey
February 24, 2011 -
For the second time in two weeks, I’ve had my world rocked while innocently visiting ESPN.com between meetings at work. If not for the current state of unrest in the generally stable Jazz organization, yesterday's announcement would have come as even more of a shock. Still, I was considerably stunned to see the headline, “Nets trade for Jazz PG Williams” pasted across the top of the screen. What?!
Two weeks ago I would have said Deron Williams is untouchable. But a lot changed in two weeks. The Jazz were afraid if they didn’t act preemptively, they would end up like Cleveland and Toronto, whose superstars deserted them to team up in Miami last summer. As a result, the Cavs and Raptors now sit at the bottom of the league standings. That’s what happens when you lose a franchise player and get nothing in return.
The Jazz did what they felt they had to do, and I get that. I just didn’t expect it to happen so suddenly. I've complained in the past that the Jazz front office was too resistant to change. Guess they've proven me wrong.
So let’s break down the trade: The Jazz sent DWill to the Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, New Jersey’s 2011 1st round pick (unprotected) and Golden State’s 2012 1st round pick, (top-7 protected).
Devin Harris – While no Deron Williams, he is an above-average point guard with great speed and a knack for getting to the hoop. He’s a decent distributor and a great defender. He’s only a year older than Deron (27), and he comes at about half the price.
Derrick Favors – He’s the cornerstone to this trade for the Jazz. Favors was the #3 pick in last year’s draft and has incredible upside. His measurements and athleticism are nearly identical to Dwight Howard, just to put things into perspective. His rookie season performance has been underwhelming thus far, but with his combination of physical gifts, work ethic, and attitude, there’s no reason to believe he won’t improve considerably. He and Jefferson could make a devastating PF/C combo in a couple of years.
New Jersey 2011 1st-round pick – This pick is completely unprotected similar to the Knicks’ pick last year. That means the Jazz could end up with the #1 pick in the draft. More likely, the pick will be in the 6-8 range. I have yet to do any real draft research since I didn’t expect the Jazz to have a pick this year (they traded their own to Minnesota in the Al Jefferson deal), so I have no idea what kind of player they might be able to get. You'll have to stay tuned for that.
Golden State’s 2012 1st round pick – This pick is protected 1-7 in 2012 and 1-6 in 2013. Chances are the Jazz will get to claim it next season if they don’t package it in a future deal. Though I haven't done draft research yet, I have heard the 2012 draft is supposed to be much stronger than 2011, so this could be a valuable pick even if it's in the teens.
So those are the facts. Now for the analysis. My disappointment in this trade is twofold:
1. The Jazz didn’t force the Nets to take Okur’s contract. That would’ve freed up another $10M in cap space for Utah next season. Who knows? Maybe Utah tried and NJ said it was a deal breaker. Still, seems that if you give up your franchise player, you should be able to dump a bad contract as well.
2. The Jazz didn’t get a shooter in return. Anthony Morrow of the Nets is a career 45% 3-pt shooter and would’ve been easy to include from a salary perspective. Devin Harris – while a very good player -- is not a good outside shooter, and the Jazz have now lost their top-4 shooters from last season: Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews, Mehmet Okur (to injury), and Deron Williams. That's a problem that needs to be addressed.
My ideal Jersey trade would have been Williams, Okur, Fesenko, and Price for Harris, Favors, Morrow, and Troy Murphy ($10M expiring contract), plus the two 1st round picks. Assuming the Jazz even tried, that may have been a little too much for the Nets.
In summary, Utah gets a very good replacement PG and effectively 3 lottery picks in exchange for Williams. In fact, an ESPN analyst (can't remember which one) today said that Favors would be the #1 pick if he had come out this season. All things considered, that’s not too bad a return for a guy the Jazz could’ve easily lost for nothing at the end of next season.
“I'm stunned that the Jazz made this trade. I'm more stunned that I am not devastated that the Jazz made this trade.”
That quote was posted by a fellow Jazz fan on a message board, but it sums up my feelings perfectly. We really won’t know how good this trade was for a few years when the Jazz have utilized (or traded) the 1sr round picks and Favors has had time to develop. But given what I know about the situation and the risk the Jazz faced with Williams, I think they made the right move.
Snow Flurries In Hell - Farewell To A Legend
February 12, 2011 –
Clearly I haven’t posted anything for a while. This is due to a combination of factors involving work, travel, family responsibilities, and our DVR crashing. Add to that the fact that the Jazz have been virtually unwatchable lately (even with my NBA League Pass working again), and you get a big gap between articles.
Then Thursday happened. It’s not every day I pull up ESPN.com and get my world rocked. Despite the fact that I was alone at my desk, I felt the urge to look around for the candid cameras, thinking I was being Punked.
This has to be some kind of cruel joke. Jerry Sloan quitting? In the middle of the season, no less? Right up until the actual press conference when he said he was through, I kept expecting something to change his mind.
But obviously it never did. And just like that, the only coach the Jazz have known for the last 23 years walked away from the game, leaving the rest of us wondering what just happened. February 10, 2011 – a date which will live in infamy.
Jerry Sloan epitomized everything I loved about the Jazz: no nonsense, no ego, no fanfare, no self-glorification, no excuses. Just basketball the way it should be played. Five players working together within a system to become greater than the sum of their individual parts – when they actually buy in.
Somehow, somewhere, this recent group of players had gotten away from that. I’m not going to completely throw Deron Williams under the bus because I don’t know what happened behind closed doors. He gets the benefit of the doubt until the evidence proves otherwise. That said, it’s tough to believe he isn’t at least part of the problem. I’ve been a huge fan of his, but the pedestal might be cracking. He seems different this season, and not in a good way. I’ve always detested the notion of superstar players with entitlement attitudes upstaging coaches. If it does turn out that Deron drove Sloan away, that will be tough to forgive.
The optimist in me wants to think the Jazz will somehow be better off now. Sloan was at times stubborn to a fault, and I’ve wondered on numerous occasions if he had failed to adapt well enough to the modern game. Maybe a change is exactly what this team needs. I like Ty Corbin, and I’m excited that Jeff Hornacek will be an assistant as well. I hope Corbin will maintain the same culture of discipline and team play that Sloan employed, but perhaps with a little more flexibility. If he does, this might actually benefit the team in the long run. Perhaps Williams and Sloan simply had an honest personality clash, and Deron will thrive under Corbin. Maybe it really was just Jerry’s time to hang it up.
That’s what the optimist in me wants to think. In reality, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Something just feels wrong about this. What is happening to this team? This organization? Will they continue to be the Jazz that I’ve followed so loyally for nearly 25 years, primarily because they stood in stark contrast to the rest of the NBA and its me-first culture? Larry Miller, Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, and Karl Malone were the Jazz. When the latter two retired, Miller and Sloan soldiered on, and the Jazz remained. When Larry passed away things started to feel a little different; but with Sloan on the bench, it was still the Jazz. You knew he was in charge.
But what now? The team is at a major crossroads, and I feel I’m in a similar position as a fan. It was a strange feeling watching the game last night. Thought I was cheering for the team to the end, in a way I was almost glad to see them lose. It just wouldn’t have felt right to win that first one without Jerry.