Deron Williams Traded to New Jersey Nets: What This Means for Utah Jazz
All-Star Deron Williams has been traded to the New Jersey Nets.
In return, the Utah Jazz will receive Devon Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-round picks and cash. With less than 48 hours before the deadline, this trade comes as a shock to the entire NBA.
Longtime head coach Jerry Sloan resigned only two weeks ago, and some reports have linked a halftime argument between the Hall of Fame coach and the All-Star point guard as being part of Sloan's retirement.
And it's been believed that Sloan had 99% of the locker room, not including his starting point guard Williams, possibly the last straw in a bale that took 36 NBA-years to complete.
Now, it's leaving the Jazz' intentions behind the trade up for much speculation.
Why Did the Jazz Pull the Trigger?
The LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony sagas that have happened in the last year-plus have put small market teams in a jam.
The Utah Jazz are looking to avoid the negative media attention that surrounded the Cleveland Cavaliers during last year's season and the Denver Nuggets this year.
Modern NBA-talk has minimal to do with what is actually happening. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams have become the next James/Anthony-type icons. Nobody cares about where they are, in the national media at least. It's been about where they will go.
This type of talk is good for larger market teams, but it's bad for the blue-collared, smaller cities.
The Jazz don't want to have to deal with another Carlos Boozer situation, especially with a guard who may be unhappy in Utah.
Immediately Good or Bad for the Jazz?
The Jazz have the toughest offense in the NBA to run, and Deron Williams has been running it since 2005 with a John Stockton-like precision.
It's going to be tough for Devon Harris to arrive for the last 25 games and learn the offense while also making a real push for the playoffs. The UCLA offense is too tough to run for instant success.
But Harris is one of the best point guards in the entire NBA. He isn't of Williams' caliber, but he is definitely capable and only a year older than D-Will.
Obviously, the Jazz have downgraded at point guard. However, this may be the spark that both Utah and Harris need.
Harris hasn't been in the playoffs since 2007 when he was with the Dallas Mavericks. Playing in New Jersey can get to anybody. With the Jazz on the brink of playoff contention, Harris could potentially recharge the struggling Notes.
But they could easily miss the playoffs with Memphis and Phoenix breathing down their necks.
Jazz Strengthens Frontcourt with Favors
The Jazz have one of the best frontcourts in all of basketball.
Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson combine for over 34 points and 17 rebounds per game, but they're incredibly undersized.
Naturally, Big Al is a power forward, but with a major injury to Mehmet Okur, Jefferson has been playing center for the entire year. Plus, he's rather immobile for a forward. In order to play him at his natural position, he has to play alongside a quick center.
Millsap is undersized for any power forward, but he plays bigger than he is.
Adding Derrick Favors, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, will help the Jazz beef up their front line to maximum.
With Andrei Kirilenko, who plays both forward positions, the Jazz have become longer and more agile with the addition of Favors.
Utah now has eight frontcourt players. That's good news for a team that has had rebounding issues this year.
Favors averages six points and five rebounds in less than 20 minutes per game.
Jazz May Be Looking for More Trades
The Jazz currently have eight players that can play power forward or center. What they're lacking is shooting.
With either of the unnamed picks that they're receiving from Golden State and/or New Jersey, the Jazz could look to add some shooting to their perimeter.
Raja Bell is currently the only natural shooting guard that the Jazz have. C.J. Miles, Gordon Hayward and Kirilenko are all more comfortable playing small forward, and Miles is the only one who slides over to SG easiest.
Much of the season the Jazz have been playing out of position when Bell hasn't been on the court. Point guard Ronnie Price has filled in as best he could, mostly with speed and athleticism; however, he is not a dependable shooter.
Williams played a lot of SG this year, alongside Earl Watson.
With a bunch of draft picks lying on the table and Kirilenko's expiring contract, the Jazz may take this opportunity to push for a strong shooter, allowing Jefferson and Millsap more room in the paint.
Williams Didn't Push Out Sloan
Some of the reports that emerged after Jerry Sloan resigned speculated that Williams was involved.
There was a halftime fight between Sloan and Williams during a home game against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 9. Sloan resigned on the tenth.
Some believe that either Sloan wanted to punish Williams for the halftime argument or that a play wasn't run when he called it out or a combination of both.
When Sloan had a post-game conversation with GM Kevin O'Connor, Sloan wanted to discipline Williams but management refused to back him. Sloan didn't want dissension in both the locker room and with management because that means a total loss of control.
So he resigned.
But if Jazz management chose Williams over Sloan, they wouldn't turn around and immediately trade him in the aftermath.
What Does This Mean for Utah's Future?
The Jazz' future has become brighter.
Losing Deron Williams hurts, especially for a playoff push this season. However, with all the reports surrounding his involvement in Sloan's departure, Williams couldn't simultaneously keep basketball at the forefront of his mind.
The playoffs may have become a long-shot for the Jazz, but that's hard to tell too.
In the distant future, Utah has set themselves up nicely for whatever may come this summer. By the end of the 2011 season, the Jazz will have ditched their two largest contracts in Kirilenko and Williams.
Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur have the largest remaining contracts, both smaller in their final years than those of Kirilenko and Williams.
The Jazz also have two very good young players in rookies Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, both lottery picks from the 2011 Draft.
With the $3 million in cash and the multiple, unnamed first-round picks from the trade, the Jazz have financially prepared for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, whatever that may bring.
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