Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony Leave Jazz, Nuggets, West In Better Shape

Dan AllsupCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2011

Deron Williams pushing his way out of Salt Lake City
Deron Williams pushing his way out of Salt Lake CityGeorge Frey/Getty Images

It's official: Deron Williams has been shipped to the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, the Nets' first round pick this year and Golden State's first round pick next season (which is top seven protected). New Jersey was pressured to make a move after seeing Carmelo Anthony end up with the cross-town rival Knicks yesterday.

The Nets will have to make an impressive run to make the playoffs this season, although this is unlikely. The Nets also have no long term guarantee that Williams will be in Brooklyn or New Jersey, as he was reportedly "shocked" when he learned of the news himself.

The Jazz pulled the trigger quickly, unlike the Melo-Knicks-Nets negotiating that dragged on for months. Utah is still dealing with the resignation of long-term coach Jerry Sloan, who was run out of town by Deron Williams. The Jazz are now left with neither; maybe now that Williams is gone, Sloan will return for next season. The Jazz landed three possible lottery picks in the process, along with Devin Harris. Harris will replace Williams as the point guard.

Favors was the third overall pick in last year's draft, and the Nets are heading for the lottery along with Golden State. Utah is currently eighth in the western conference despite being mired in a slump over the past few weeks. Consequently, Utah has a shot at the playoffs in a stronger conference without its star, and the Nets have a very slim chance of doing so with the former Jazz star in the weaker Eastern Conference. 

Short-term, the Jazz would be better with Deron Williams in purple and white. However, they were not going to achieve anything this season, and it was unlikely Williams would've signed on long term.

The Nuggets were in a similar spot with Carmelo Anthony not wanting to stay in Denver long term. He asked for a trade, and he engineered it to the one team he wanted to move to, the Knicks. The Knicks bid against themselves and basically upped the ante every time the Nuggets asked.

The Nuggets landed PG Raymond Felton, F Danilo Galinari, C Timofey Mozgov, G/F Wislon Chandler, a first round draft pick from the Knicks and $3 million cash in exchange for Melo, PG Chauncey Billups, F Sheldan Williams, PG Anthony Carter and F Renaldo Balkman. That's a pretty good haul for being up against a deadline, in which they would get nothing in return this summer for Anthony.

Its always hard to argue that a team would be better without its premier player and star, but the Nuggets and Jazz did a tremendous job of getting value in return and putting themselves in a position to acquire another star through the draft. This opens the Western Conference this year, as the Nuggets and Jazz may slide out of contention and even if they do make the playoffs they won't be expected to put up much of a fight. Teams around the league see the Cleveland Cavaliers and don't want to be left in the cold when their star takes their talents to South Beach.