NBA Trade: Who Came Out on Top Between the LA Lakers, NJ Nets and Rockets?

Allen KimSenior Analyst IDecember 17, 2010

NBA Trade: Who Came Out on Top Between the LA Lakers, NJ Nets and Rockets?

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    A three way trade just recently went down in the NBA.

    The primary players in this deal are the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. However, the Sacramento Kings were brought into the fold in order to clear up roster space for the Rockets.

    So, what did each team give up and receive, and who came out on top?

New Jersey Nets

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    Give: Terrence Williams, Joe Smith

    Get: Rocket's 2011 and 2012 (Lottery Protected) 1st Round Picks, Lakers 2011 1st Round Pick, Sasha Vujacic

    At this juncture, it's safe to say that parting ways with Terrence Williams was an inevitability for the Nets. Williams tenure in New Jersey has been fairly rocky and it culminated in him being suspended and sent down to the D-League for disciplinary measures.

    Williams was in Avery Johnson's dog house and the Little General appears to have a lot of pull with the Nets front-office, singling Williams out in this mess.

    However, if Williams ever develops into the monstrous playmaker many believe he is capable of being, than it will come back and bite the Nets in the ass one day.

    But more than anything else, the Nets showed with this move that they want Carmelo Anthony, and they want him badly.

    New Jersey, apparently fearful that Anthony was slipping out of their grasp, decided to expand their war chest by loading up on draft picks.

    For the 2011 NBA draft, the Nets now have their own first round pick along with the Rockets, Warriors and Lakers. The following year, they'll have their own plus the Rockets first-rounder.

    With five first-round picks over the next two years, the Nets immediately become power players in the trade market. Whether or not those picks could be used to acquire Anthony from the Nuggets ultimately comes down to the Nets ability to convince Anthony to sign an extension with the team.

    However, if the Nets miss out in the 'Melo sweepstakes, they'll still be in a great position to either stock up on prospects or find another trade partner to help them land a star player

    The downside for the Nets is that they not only have to take on Sasha Vujacic, but his contract. He'll be paid $5.47 million this season, but luckily it's an expiring contract. Not to mention, Mikhail Prokhorov has deep coffers that are able to absorb that type of financial hit.

    Grade: A

Houston Rockets

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Give: 2011 first round pick, Jermaine Taylor

    Get: Terrence Williams, 2012 Sacramento Kings second-round pick

    The Houston Rockets are mortgaging this deal based on two things:

    1. They climb out of the lower echelon of the league and avoid a lottery pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

    2. Terrence Williams flourishes in Houston.

    If I had to hedge my bets, I'd say that the Rockets would be right on both accounts.

    Aaron Brooks is set to return from injury, so the Rockets lineup gets a big shot in the arm. Also, as the 18th ranked team with nearly three-quarters of the season left, Houston will have plenty of time to climb out of the basement.

    If Terrence Williams can embrace the change of scenery and build upon his tremendous play from the tail end of his rookie season, the Rockets may have gotten a steal in this trade.

     

    Williams has immense potential, and if he can fully realize his natural gifts, he can blossom into the star that the team has been searching for.

    Of course, the deal could end up backfiring if Williams never matures and the Rockets 2011 first-round pick ends up in the lottery. It would sting even more if that pick ends up turning into Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving or Perry Jones.

    Grade: A

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Give: 2011 First Round Pick, Sasha Vujacic

    Get: Joe Smith

    By trading away Sasha Vujacic, the Lakers were more or less committing to a salary dump. The Lakers payroll has ballooned to $95-plus million and they're well over the salary cap.

    Sasha Vujacic is owed $5.47 million this season compared to Joe Smith's relatively modest $1.35 million contract.

    The Lakers will only have to pay a prorated portion of $854,389 because it's only a single-season deal for a player with two-plus years of experience.

    However, it's not all about freeing up some cash for the team.

    Joe Smith may have never lived up to his draft status, but he provides the Lakers with a veteran big body that could actually pay dividends once the stretch run rolls around.

    Los Angeles may have to give up their first-round pick in this year's draft, but that pick is most assuredly going to be near the bottom. With a top heavy draft class, the Lakers can certainly afford to take that risk. Also, the Lakers are built to win now. They can't afford to sit around to develop a bevy of young prospects.

    Grade: B

Sacramento Kings

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    Give: Future second-round pick

    Get: Jermaine Taylor

    The Houston Rockets had to ship a player out to make room for Terrence Williams on their roster and Jermaine Taylor was the odd man out.

    This deal is close to being a straight up swap.

    Taylor was taken in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft with the second pick, and the Rockets are likely to see a similar pick come back their way if the Kings can't improve.

    Grade: C