Giving up the farm might be worth it after all.
The past year has seen more landscape changing trades and signings than nearly any other era in the NBA.
Now, the increased rumblings about a discontented Deron Williams could portend yet another ground-breaking move by one of the league's elite.
The Camelo Anthony saga may currently be highjacking the headlines, abducting the airwaves, and crowding the column space, but a Deron Williams transfer could end up being far more productive for his new team (and destructive for his old) than anything remotely Melo related.
That of course is in no way a knock on Carmelo Anthony. It's just that high quantity scoring forwards, even at Anthony's talent level, are an easier commodity to come by.
Finding point guards like Deron Williams?
Not so much.
And that's even when we factor in the other elites like Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, and Rajon Rondo.
I suppose we can argue all day about whether Williams truly is the best point guard in the NBA. (It's an argument worth having every time, by the way.)
However, there is no argument when it comes to summing up Williams' overall game:
He sets up teammates almost as easily as Paul. He plays angles nearly as well as Nash. He can get to the basket with an otherworldly mixture of speed and power in much the same way as Rose. He is just about as physically imposing and as much of a match up nightmare as Rondo.
Now, while Williams might not be the defensive wrecking ball that Rondo is, he's as good or better defensively than the rest of that elite list.
What's more, he has a more complete inside and outside scoring ability than any of the other top-flight point guards. Plus, his open court vision and transition passing are easily the best since Jason Kidd's prime.
When it comes down to it, while Williams may not be quite as good as the aforementioned players in their specific areas of expertise, he is so close behind, and so well rounded in all of them, that calling him the best overall point guard right now is certainly not out of line.
So, if Deron Williams really is considering a departure from Utah, where could he possibly end up?
If you're asking, "who would want him?" The answer is obviously, "anyone and everyone who could get him."
At the same time, by the leaving the Jazz and forsaking a perennial Playoff contender, he'd obviously expect that bigger and better things must lay over the next horizon.
Let's discuss why Deron Williams might suddenly want out of such a good situation in Utah, and what the ramifications of his move could be on his current and future teams.
We'll do that while pondering which ten teams might actually have the best shot at acquiring and keeping the league's best overall point guard.
Keep in mind that these are in no particular order, and merely hypothetical ways to make such a move possible.
"Don't go, Deron. I'm too old to start rebuilding all over again!"
One could never have imagined that Utah would somehow replace John Stockton and Karl Malone's offensive production.
Afterall, "Stock" and "The Mailman" pick and rolled nearly 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists per game during their 18 seasons together.
Yet, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer combined for around 36 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists per game across their own five seasons. Together, they brought back many a fond memory for Jazz fans, even as they created new ones.
However, while these recent Jazz teams have had better supporting casts and overall depth compared to Jerry Sloan's squads of yesteryear, Utah was not able to replicate the same amount of Playoff success.
Still, many forget how long it took Stockton and Malone to finally elevate their team from mere recurring guest spots in the Playoffs to actual Championship contention.
In the end, Carlos Boozer never displayed the toughness or dedication that Malone had, and he eventually wore out his welcome in the Wasatch Valley.
Deron Williams could not hide his displeasure that key pieces like Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver were let go during the past year.
Now, he's been left behind on a team with similar talent, but questionable chemistry and fit. With a roster in flux, Jerry Sloan's career nearly at an end, and limited free agency clout, Williams has obviously begun to wonder whether Utah is the place to win a ring.
He may not have the patience that Stockton displayed, but if the Jazz could jump in on the following blockbuster, maybe Williams would realize that similar loyalty could result in even better long term career results.
Utah gets: Danny Granger & Brandon Rush (IND) and Nene (DEN)
Indiana: Al Jefferson & conditional 1st Round pick (UT) and Wilson Chandler (NY)
New York: Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington (DEN)
Denver: Andrei Kirilenko (UT) and Danillo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry's expiring contract, & unprotected 1st Round pick (NY)
This deal would give the Jazz a much more balanced roster going forward, move Indiana seamlessly out of the Danny Granger era, give New York exactly what it wants, and reboot Denver with two blue chip prospects, $35.5 million in expiring contracts, and a pick.
"I have the biggest cajones of any GM in the NBA right now."
Why does Deron Williams want to leave a situation where he is the undisputed leader of a perennial contender, helmed by a Hall of Fame coach?
Having lived in Utah for a recent stretch of Williams' career, I think I have a theory as to what might be driving this sudden desire to bolt.
I can tell you firsthand that Utah fans are some of the most die-hard and loyal in the league. Energy Solutions Arena absolutely rocks visiting teams. The Jazz are the biggest show in town and can rarely do wrong.
Yet, I never have gotten the impression that anyone in Utah, whether it's the fan base or the organization, really believes that their team is capable of a championship.
Sure, they talk about the possibility of being a contender, but it's never with any real certainty behind it. (Some are going to argue vehemently with me on this...but I'm not making this up.)
In the same way, it always appears as if the organization has been conditioned to set their sights on professionalism and Playoff contention, but not much else.
This is going to sound harsh, because I really do like the Jazz and their fans, but Utah has never exhibited the resolve or the resources to make the "all in" moves necessary for winning the big one.
Just watch how body language of everyone, (including Jerry Sloan's), changes when the Jazz annually face the Lakers in the Playoffs. It's as if they have already acknowledged that, while they are a good team, they'll never be good enough.
I think this attitude has begun to sink in on Williams. This realization may be starting to eat at him, thereby prompting his desire to move on.
Thus, Williams might be especially attracted to a team that is blatantly doing anything within its power to win now.
Utah: Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Earl Clark, two future 2nd Round picks (ORL)
Orlando: Deron Williams (UT)
While it would be impossible to sustain for more than a two year run, this deal would make Orlando the undisputed champions of Florida, and quite possibly the NBA.
"I did NOT see that one coming... but, I like it!"
Deron Williams is only 26 years old.
He's been around the league long enough to establish himself as a superstar.
He's young enough that his best years are still just ahead of him.
It's becoming clear that Williams questions whether his prime should be spent on a team that's only going to be decent.
Yes, the Jazz have the potential to become marginally better with their current lineup.
But, what is their true ceiling?
Aren't guys like CJ Miles and Paul Millsap, the building blocks on which the Jazz are now banking, already overachieving?
Are Gordon Hayward, Kyrylo Fesenko, and Ronnie Price ever going to be anything more than rotation players?
Are Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur's contracts really going to turn into top tier free agents who will take the franchise to the promised land?
It's the sign of how good Jerry Sloan really is that he can squeeze the most out of any roster.
However, it also means that his teams are already operating at full capacity.
Barring long-term injury, Deron Williams has enough time to roll the dice on a short-term title play.
Utah: Caron Butler's expiring contract, Roddy Beaubois, JJ Barea, future 1st Round pick, & Ian Mahinmi (DAL) and Xavier Henry & future 2nd Round pick (MEM)
Dallas: Deron Williams & Ronnie Price (UT) and Hasheem Thabeet (MEM)
Memphis: Jason Kidd (DAL)
As with the Orlando scenario, this type of run will not be sustainable beyond a few seasons.
Yet, if it doesn't work, Deron's still got at least a decade left to move on and try again.
"I don't believe it either."
Does that mean that Deron Williams would only accept trades to a contender?
Part of Utah's problem is that their nucleus of player just don't fit very well together.
On the front line, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are both gifted scorers and rebounders in their own right, but what Millsap gives up in size, Jefferson cedes in foot-speed.
Off the bench, Mehmet Okur's floor stretching ability is overcome by his lack of physicality, while Kyrylo Fesenko and Francisco Elson can't be trusted to do much of anything for more than a few minutes at a time.
Thus, Utah's front line can't protect the rim or the paint whenever Andrei Kirilenko is off the floor.
AK-47 truly is the perfect athletic stopper to pair with any of Utah's other key bigs, but his prohibitive contract has long affected their ability to reinforce the roster, and his time with the Jazz is clearly coming to an end.
In the back court, the Jazz are severely reliant on Williams and CJ Miles to provide the scoring that Raja Bell, Earl Watson, Gordon Hayward, and Ronnie Price can't.
It's not that any of those guys are bad, but they are all one dimensional role players. Utah is clearly missing a complete weapon at the wing spot. By moving Miles' scoring into the starting lineup, they've created one of the less potent 2nd units in the league.
This was a team built around Williams being paired with a volume scorer, like Carlos Boozer. Now that Al Jefferson is proving to be the wrong fit, the leftover role parts are simply being asked to do too much.
Is it realistic that Williams would sign off on a trade to one of the league's wastelands? Maybe not, but the ability to team up with a pair of perfect fitting pieces (Kevin Love and Michael Beasley) on a team with plenty of cap space to build around might catch the eye.
Utah: Corey Brewer, Johnny Flynn, Nikola Pekovic, the rights to Ricky Rubio, 2011 First Round Pick (MIN)
Minnesota: Deron Williams (UT)
Bear with me. I'm one of the few TimberWolves fans left out there, and I have to be given a reason for hope.
No matter how far-fetched it is.
Christmas could come in February for New Jersey.
Is this really about Williams just being in a rut and needing a change of scenery?
Or, is this part of a desire to contend for titles right now, and a losing of hope in his organization to deliver?
Either way, what I think Williams wants is simply to see a plan moving forward, rather than the sort of lateral "wait and see" moves he's witnessing in Utah.
The Jazz have certainly done what they could to recover from losing Boozer. Yet, the fact remains that they also sold Ronnie Brewer for chump change, and were willingly outbid for Kyle Korver. Deron Williams had a reason to feel frustrated by that.
What's more, their offseason moves were largely based on maintaining the status quo, not necessarily for moving forward into championship contention. Now, the Jazz suddenly don't even look as good as the group which couldn't get past the 2nd Round last year.
That cannot have been lost on Williams and cannot have solidified his patience.
In the previous two decades, players like John Stockton and Malone waited around as their franchises patiently built contenders.
You could call it a generational sign of the times, an era of increased free agent flexibility, or the fact that many of the old guard patiently waited in vain; Either way, the current generation of NBA players have been willing to give their franchise one and a half contracts worth of time, and have then begun forcing their way to greener pastures.
Williams might be willing to take a short term step backwards, if it meant joining a team that was clearly bent on moving forward at all costs.
Utah: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, protected First Round pick & Troy Murphy's expiring contract (NJ) and conditional First Round pick & Austin Daye (DET)
New Jersey: Deron Williams (UT) and Richard Hamilton (DET)
Detroit: Al Jefferson (UT)
New Jersey has a long way to go, but if they're willing to push so hard for Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul, they would obviously take a shot at this too. Their end of the year cap space would allow them to add another star to the mix, and that might just be enough to lure Williams in.
"Red Rover, Red Rover, send D-Will right over!"
So, if Deron Williams really is going to leave Utah, what are the Jazz to do about it?
On the bright side, Utah is in much better position to transition from this era than they were when Stockton retired and Malone defected to Los Angeles.
That team had been hanging on for years, trying to squeeze the last drops out of their aged Hall of Famers.
This incarnation of the Jazz may be meandering a little bit, but they will not be starting over at square one, even if Deron Williams leaves.
The front line pieces may not all fit perfectly, but they are attractive enough to be moved for those that will. There is some financial and organizational flexibility just around the corner with expiring contracts, and the supporting pieces are on short, but moveable deals.
Utah will not need to completely gut the roster. However, it would be equally unrealistic for them to swap Williams for declining parts and nothing more.
They should be looking for prospects who have already proven something, but also have their best years ahead of them. These incoming players do not need to be perfect fits for Jerry Sloan's system, but they will need to be the kind who can adapt to it.
The Jazz need depth all across the roster, and would need to enter a 1-2 year development & evaluation period with whatever young players they can bring in. (Again, that would NOT be a full rebuilding stage, however.)
It remains to be seen whether Jerry Sloan will stick around much longer for another restocking period, but he probably would stay long enough to leave the franchise on the right path.
A trade partner might surface who doesn't appear to be the perfect destination for D-Will at first, but has the kind of offer that tempts Utah to pull the trigger earlier than expected.
Utah: Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, & Maurice Speights (PHI)
Philadelphia: Deron Williams (UT)
On second thought, pairing Williams with Andre Iguodala, Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks, Thad Young, and a resurrected Elton Brand might really be the next step to furthering Philadelphia's already-in-progress resurgence.
"I'll drink to that!"
Jerry Sloan is not a coach for everyone.
The Utah Jazz are not an organization for everyone.
Only for those players who can accept and understand that the team is always bigger than the individual, without exception. This hardline philosophy is echoed by both the organization and the fan base.
It's true that Sloan's dry, no-excuses approach has intimidated many a player away from even considering Utah.
But, it's also produced one of the most professional and successful franchises anywhere during the last two decades.
Deron Williams, like John Stockton and Karl Malone before him, is one of the few stars able to not only get past the "ego check", but embrace it. (Carlos Boozer tried, but couldn't.)
Whether he knows it or not, it will be hard for Deron Williams to walk into a situation that's any different.
Not only will he be drawn to an established coach on a franchise committed to winning, but he might actually desire an environment not so very different from his own.
Utah: Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, & James Anderson (SA)
San Antonio: Deron Williams & Raja Bell (UT)
Now, I've tried not to make this simply another trade proposal and justification article. I've merely attempted to show you how it COULD be possible to move Deron Williams into a lot of different situations.
This one however, probably requires a little more explanation.
Would San Antonio, arguably the league's best team right now, really shake things up by this much midstream?
I think they might.
San Antonio is clearly transitioning from the Tim Duncan era, where nearly all offense originated from the post.
The new look Spurs are getting out to run, and currently have the legs to do it, but are going to need a better facilitator than Tony Parker if this is a longterm philosophy change. They need someone who can not only create their own shots, (as Parker does), but will also be the floor general who puts everyone else in position to succeed.
It's not that Tony Parker can't or doesn't already do this.
It's just that Williams is two years younger and already does it better.
If I were the Spurs, I would gamble with the inseason chemistry adjustments this trade would cause, if it meant that I was positioned to move seamlessly into the next era.
For the Jazz, this trade would give them two very intriguing prospects without really missing a beat. Adding Tony Parker, (a guy who's experienced and also extremely adept at pick and roll offenses), would allow them to stay in contention on nearly the same path they've already committed to.
Plus, he's not going anywhere for the next four seasons.
There IS something growing in The Garden. This time, it doesn't stink.
Just to shake things up a bit, let's get into a New York state of mind for this slide.
The Knicks have swung hard for the fences, only to generate singles and doubles instead.
Yet, those base hits are still putting plenty of runs on the board, even as New York continues to look for the next big play.
Their plan has obviously been to trade for Carmelo Anthony now, so as to lure Chris Paul to the Big Apple within the next season or two.
Throughout the various snags that have arisen, the Knicks maintain their dogged focus on this two-year plan.
What if, instead of haggling the Nuggets and fantasizing about what the league-owned Hornets might do, the Knicks made basically the same deal to acquire Deron Williams instead? Then, they used Eddy Curry's expiring money to sign a freed Carmelo Anthony this summer?
Utah: Landry Fields, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, & Wilson Chandler (NY)
New York: Deron Williams & Jeremy Evans (UT)
Under this scenario, the Knicks get Melo AND a top flight point guard, (who I believe is actually better than Paul right now, but you can argue with me on that one), in time for next season.
This is exactly the type of trade package that would keep Utah on the right track this season, while also giving Jerry Sloan hard-nosed prospects for the future.
"Where's my Stockton?" (hoping it's not really going to be Baron Davis)
Deron Williams is the rare point guard who can not only carry an offense, but can also facilitate everyone else within it as well.
In short, he can score in bunches, without actually taking away from anyone else's shots.
Deron Williams offensive ability is what sets him above John Stockton: "Stock" would have been a very good player on his own, but he was only a star with Malone.
Williams will be a star wherever he goes, but like any point guard, he will only be that much better by having top flight scorers to pass to.
The Clippers are the perfect landing spot for Deron Williams. They might barely sniff the Playoffs this year, but they are clearly going as far as Blake Griffin's limitless potential will take them.
Deron Williams is perfect for the Clippers.
They're clearly a year or two away from being serious contenders, but does anyone believe that Baron Davis has the mileage or the focus left to get them there? He's never been able to maintain either for more than short runs.
On the other hand, Deron Williams can do everything that Davis does, but better. He's younger, has never had "character" issues as a pro, and would understand his fit with Blake Griffin.
Griffin could wind up being the "Mailman 2", "E-Mailman", "Air-Mailman", "Fed-Ex", and all of the above, if paired with Deron Williams.
If paired with Griffin, Deron Williams might get within sight of Stockton's career assist numbers.
He definitely has it in him.
Joining Williams, Griffin, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, and a deep enough bench could truly make this franchise the next big thing before too long.
Utah: Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe, & Future 1st Round pick (LAC) and Jameer Nelson (ORL)
Los Angeles: Deron Williams, Raja Bell, & Ronnie Price (UT) and Chris Duhon (ORL)
Orlando: Baron Davis (LAC)
Don't lose sight of what a perfect fit a motivated Baron Davis would be with that "win now" Magic squad. What's more, this is one of the better prospective hauls for Utah in both the short and long term.
"Since you can't beat us, join us."
In closing, will Jazz fans ever forgive Deron Williams if he leaves?
I can tell you without a doubt that there's no love lost with Boozer gone.
I can tell you that nearly all Jazz fans have managed to forgive Karl Malone for momentarily defecting to the enemy.
It certainly made it easier that he didn't win a championship there.
But, what if Deron Williams left and won a title elsewhere?
What if it was with the one team that nobody in Utah can stand?
Utah: Andrew Bynum, Shannon Brown, & Lamar Odom (LAL) and Jose Calderon (TOR)
Los Angeles: Deron Williams & Kyrylo Fesenko (UT) and Reggie Evans (TOR)
Toronto: Al Jefferson (UT)
Would Utah actually make such a deal with their devil?
Probably not, but besides wondering how in the world Lamar "Hollywood" Odom could possibly exist in Salt Lake City ("Sundance" anyone?), this is a no brainer deal for all involved.
If Deron Williams is interested in pursuing a championship now, but also stamping his image onto a franchise's long term legacy, this is certainly an intriguing choice.
Prolonging Kobe Byrant's career, while launching the next chapter in a dynasty would come at a price.
This title shot would probably cost Deron Williams any good will or legacy he built with the Jazz.
At worst, he could become a local villain, like LeBron James in Cleveland. At best, he could receive a knowing, in-the-end benefit of the doubt, like Kevin Garnett in Minnesota.
Would it be worth it to find out?
The number of rings may have to decide that.