On Wednesday, the Utah Jazz traded away the franchise—at least it would seem that way from the reaction around the league.
Don’t be that guy who believes that. This is my version of giving a standing ovation to the Jazz brass.
Instead of sitting around and letting Deron Williams control the entire Jazz season next year, Utah decided to make the move first.
Why sit around and let the distraction of the Williams season ruin next year as well? That would be putting yourself back a year.
That’s what the Denver Nuggets did last season. They’ve known for a long time that Carmelo Anthony was never going to re-sign there.
Had they made a deal to trade him away last season, they probably could have gotten even more—at least the team would have been in rebuilding mode for some time now.
Now let’s move back to the Jazz here in this situation. Is the loss of Williams really that big of a loss for the Jazz?
Sure—he had become the face of the franchise for years now, but when you look at what the Jazz got back in return, you can’t help but be impressed with their haul.
They get a 27-year-old guy in Devin Harris who—although his stats are down this season—is still averaging over 15 points per game and dishing out nearly eight assists per game.
While everyone wants to knock Harris for his decreased shooting and points this season, Harris is quietly averaging a career-high in assists per contest.
The former Wisconsin Badgers guard is also just two years removed from a very Williams-like 21 points per contest, seven assists per game, season averages.
When you examine the productivity difference between the two this season, Harris is averaging six points less per contest, as well as two assists and two rebounds less per game than Williams.
Not that big of a drop-off for a team that’s “rebuilding” after the Williams trade.
Oh by the way—that’s not all they got in the deal. They also wound up acquiring the man who, in this past year’s draft, had arguably the highest ceiling of anyone—Derrick Favors.
He was the third overall draft choice, and everyone knew he wouldn’t have that big of an impact early.
Favors has lived up to that, showing flashes at times, but his inconsistency has landed him on the bench quite a bit this season as well.
So let’s recap: The Jazz have a little bit of a drop-off at point guard with the Harris-Williams swap. Then, the Jazz add another piece in Favors, who as noted before, has a very high ceiling.
It’s already a win—but yet, there’s still more to go. The Jazz also receive the Nets 2011 first-round draft choice. That’s a Nets team that has a 17-40 record and will unquestionably have a very high chance to win the lottery.
That’s still not all. The Jazz also receive the Golden State Warriors' 2012 first-round draft choice. And while the Warriors do seem to be headed into the right direction with that great backcourt and David Lee grabbing boards underneath, I’ll believe they’re a winning team when I see it.
Overall, this was a great trade for the Jazz. They get a ton of assets back in this deal and avoid the headache that the Nuggets had this season with Anthony.
Answer this truthfully: How much did you hear about the Nuggets season this year as compared to the Anthony rumors?
Are you even aware that the Nuggets are tied for fifth in the Western Conference? No. You’re aware that they had an unhappy superstar all year who you knew was going to get dealt.
This being said, I have to give some props to Anthony for keeping his mouth shut this year. Throughout all of this, he’s never trashed anyone, and he’s never said, “I want out.”
It was handled behind closed doors, the way it should be. Despite that, it was still obviously a distraction to the team.
So now what do the Jazz do moving forward? Do they make a move to deal away bigger salaries for cap room and more draft choices?
Favors' more natural position is at power forward. That’s a problem in Utah, because the keys to that position were handed off to Paul Millsap, who has responded with a very productive season.
So what can the Jazz do? They very well could wait for Favors to develop on the bench, or they could try and move Millsap. Why move Millsap when you don’t have to? Everyone wants to save money—everyone.
For kicks, here is one scenario I could see happening that would benefit both teams if need be.
Milwaukee Bucks trade Ersan Ilyasova, Chris Douglas-Roberts and a future first-round pick to the Jazz for Millsap.
Neither guy will be back with their respective franchise next year. So the important pieces that the Jazz get are Ilyasova, Douglas-Roberts and a draft choice.
The Jazz's weakness this year has been their lack of athleticism and shooting. They get a great shooter for a big man in Ilyasova and they get a good athlete in Douglas-Roberts. The first-round pick is used to sweeten the deal.
For the Bucks, they wind up with a power forward who can be the bruiser they need underneath. It’s a move that would send Drew Gooden to the bench when healthy, and that’s where Gooden belongs on a good team.
The Bucks add toughness and can wait for youngster Larry Sanders to develop into the type of player they think he can be. He just got sent down to the D-League, so that’s not too out there to begin with.
As for the addition of Millsap, it’s not like the Bucks would break the bank when acquiring him. He’s owed just $7 million this season and his numbers are relatively similar over the two years following this one.
It’s a small price to pay for such a talented player. As for the Jazz, it’s a winning situation because of the addition of a shooter, someone who can defend and a first-round draft choice.
It’s not a deal they need to make, but it’s another one that can improve them.
Let’s get back to the Jazz taking control of a situation now and taking it out of the hands of a player.
Chris Bosh and LeBron James left their respective cities, leaving their former franchises with very little back in return.
Anthony forced his way out of Denver and into New York, simply because that was the only place he would go to and sign an extension.
With the uncertainty with the CBA next year and a lockout looming, the Jazz needed to make this move.