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.