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New Jersey Steps Up Its Game: Grading the Deron Williams Trade

Jovan Buha |
February 24, 2011 | 3:08 a.m. PST

Staff Writer

Deron Williams isn't smiling so much now that's he's been traded to Jersey. (Creative Commons)
Deron Williams isn't smiling so much now that's he's been traded to Jersey. (Creative Commons)
Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Prokhorov.

After striking out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the New Jersey Nets and the Russian Mark Cuban finally made the big move we have all been waiting for: The Nets finalized a trade Wednesday that will bring Deron Williams to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two 1st round draft picks (Nets' & Warriors') and $3 million in cold hard cash. Compared to what the Knicks gave up for Anthony, which I discussed here, the Nets came out of this deal in great shape (they didn't trade three of their top four players).

Also, how about Prokhorov stealing the Knicks’ thunder, making a big trade a little more than 24 hours after the Knicks did?

My question for Knicks fans is this: How do you feel now that you know you could have had Williams instead of Anthony?

Maybe this is my own personal bias, but I value point guards over small forwards (unless it's LeBron James or Kevin Durant), and I definitely value Williams over Anthony. Small forwards who score 25+ points a night will come again, but there are very few point guards with Williams’ size, toughness and ability.

Anthony gets a lot of attention because he scores a lot, but that doesn’t mean he is as good as Kobe or LeBron. He has major defensive shortcomings and has only led his team out of the first round once, something Williams has done multiple times (including defeating Anthony’s Nuggets in the first round last season).

The Knicks could have added a better piece (Williams) and most likely kept either Wilson Chandler or Timofey Mozgov (Felton, Gallinari and Chandler or Mozgov along with draft picks and cash gets you Williams), and kept Anthony Randolph -- who has a high ceiling. It’s just a thought, but to me, that deal would have been much better.
The move is a no-brainer for the Nets, who have lacked a true superstar since the end of the Jason Kidd era.

Williams will be the Nets’ best player since Kidd, yet is arguably just as valuable as Kidd was in his Garden State days. He averages 21.3 points per game and 9.7 assists per game and is one of the top, if not the top, point guard in the NBA. He has proven playoff experience under a legendary coach (Jerry Sloan), has hit numerous clutch shots in the playoffs, has won an Olympic gold medal and is capable of turning things around in New Jersey.

Williams was clearly going to leave, so at least Utah replaced him with some talent in Harris and Favors. The current situation in Utah is unfortunate, as one of the NBA’s most stable franchises has now lost its Hall-of-Fame coach and All-NBA point guard. Moving forward, it will be a tough task replacing those two, especially Sloan.

On a brighter note, there was a trade. Let's take a look at how the grades shape out.

New Jersey Nets:  

As stated above, the Nets got arguably the NBA’s top point guard and a top 10 player in the NBA. Williams will help Brook Lopez immensely, create open shots for sharpshooters Anthony Morrow and Sasha Vujacic and serve as a mentor for former Lakers point guard Jordan Farmar.

Williams is just 26 years, and will be entering his prime during his tenure with the Nets. While looking at what they gave up, it appears the Nets have come away with a steal. Devin Harris is not an elite point guard by any stretch (although he has now been traded for both Kidd and Williams) and Derrick Favors may or may not pan out. The draft picks and cash are not as big of a deal when compared to the talent they’re getting in return.

This does not make the Nets a playoff team this season, but, depending on what they do this summer, the Nets will most likely be back in playoff contention next year. The only negative here is that Williams may be reluctant to re-sign with New Jersey in the summer of 2012, putting them in situation where they would have to trade Williams next season. There is plenty of time for them to change his mind. For now, this team is a lot better.

Grade: A

Utah Jazz:

Although the Nets made a great trade, the Jazz did not necessarily get the short end of the stick. While many do not consider the 27-year-old (soon to be 28-year-old) Harris as being among the NBA’s elite point guards, he still is one of the few point guards capable of putting up 20+ points and six or seven assists on any given night.

Combine this with the prospect of developing the 19-year-old Derrick Favors, who has drawn comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwight Howard, and the Jazz could potentially win this deal -- especially if Williams leaves New Jersey via free agency.

The problem is that Favors is a big man. He may become a perennial All-Star, but it does not look like it will be happening anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Jazz scored New Jersey’s 2011 1st round draft pick, which is expected to be in the top 10. The only downside is that the 2011 NBA Draft is expected to be amongst the worst in history. No superstar or clear-cut No. 1 overall pick has emerged.

may The Jazz may or not be a playoff team this season. Moving forward, they will need to figure out the identity of their team. Overall, they helped their future by attaining great assets and preventing themselves from becoming Cleveland or Toronto down the road.

Grade: B

I do not know if Williams will stay in New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn), or if he will go to New York. All I know is that the Knicks-Nets rivalry just got a lot more interesting after a decade or so of not mattering.


To reach Jovan Buha, click here. Follow him on Twitter @JovanBuha.

Find more of Jovan's work at The Buha Chronicles.



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