Examining the Brooklyn Nets' Decision to Build Around Deron Williams
There is much excitement in Brooklyn these days, as a basketball franchise has finally glommed onto the ever-ascending borough. The Nets faithful are celebrating a wholly new team for this new occasion. Deron Williams was re-signed after a season-plus trial period and Joe Johnson was brought in to join Williams in the backcourt.
Gerald Wallace adds frontcourt quality and Human Novelty Brook Lopez returns from nearly a year in suits. This team could make the playoffs, and probably should. To so many Nets lovers, that particular end justifies the means of trading for Deron Williams in 2011.
To recap, Williams was sent to the Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two additional first-picks. In 2011, the first of those picks became Enes Kanter, but could very well have become Jonas Valanciunas, Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard.
The pick also could have been squandered on one of a few disappointing prospects after that No. 3 selection. It's also worth noting that the Butterfly Effect of not making this trade would have resulted in near-infinite scenarios. All we tangibly know is that Derrick Favors went to the Jazz, a high 2011 pick went to the Jazz and the Jazz stand to get another draft choice in 2013.
But, there was a cascading effect to getting Deron Williams. As a means of placating their new, short-contract superstar, the Nets strived to add pricey talent amid their New York roll-out. "Hello Brooklyn" meant adding Joe Johnson and his $100 million contract. "Hello Brooklyn" meant trading a No. 6 pick for four years of Gerald Wallace. The roll-out also meant giving Brook Lopez a max contract, but that desperation move was excusable because it was part of a run at Dwight Howard.
Looking back today, I would vote against what Brooklyn did in the aggregate. The final tally for Deron's services would seem to be two No. 3 picks and a No. 6 selection, all for a bloated, immobile roster that should win slightly over half their games.
While money is no object to Mikhail Prokhorov, the CBA seeks to handcuff wealthier owners. Even if the Nets want to sign a big free agent, they can't under current circumstances. If they wish to trade for a superstar, it's hard to see what the trade partner might covet in exchange.
To be sure, there are a lot of moving parts in this analysis, and it's subject to change by the year. But right now, in 2012, I prefer a team that could have Derrick Favors, Jonas Valanciunas, another top pick and giant canyons of cap space. Favors is an emerging force on defense, and might be Brooklyn's best defensive player if he were magically reinserted back on this offense-first roster. He also just turned 21.
Jonas Valanciunas would have been Brooklyn's most likely pick if they already had Favors. While I can't vouch for the kid's career, Chad Ford believed Jonas to be the second best prospect among soon-to-be rookies in 2012 (via ESPN). I have not seen enough Jonas to form any strong opinions, but his Euro stats and highlights are optimism-inspiring.
But what if the Nets had traded for Williams, not given up a No. 6 for Gerald Wallace and managed to re-sign Deron? Brooklyn would then be starting this year with at least one young talent, and thus a potential trade chip should they (again) chase a superstar. I could endorse that scenario as a Nets fan. Without that pick, they gave up a bit much for $325 million of "playoffs, probably."
(Note: I'm not a Nets fan, but my friend Devin Kharpertian is and he's fine with the Deron trade. He also may resent "playoffs, probably.")
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