Deron Williams Is a New Jersey Net, but Will Soon Be a New York Knick

Gene ZarnickCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2011

I was surprised.  You were surprised.  Heck, even Deron Williams was surprised.

On Wednesday, when the trade that sent Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks and around $3 million, almost everyone was surprised by what went down.

I get why it went down, and think it's a good trade for both teams in the short-term, but in the long run I just don't think the gamble is going to payoff for New Jersey.

Ever since Mikhail Prokhorov stepped foot on US soil we've heard stories about how this multibillionaire was going to be able to resurrect a team that has been in shambles for years.

The game plan for the Nets all along was to get a superstar player and then build around them as they make their move to Brooklyn.  After a tumultuous offseason where they made a run at every superstar free agent that would listen, the Nets had to revert to plans G, H and I as their free agents signings included Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Troy Murphy, Quinton Ross, Sean May and Travis Outlaw.

Not exactly what they were looking for.

The failure of a superstar offseason acquisition continued into the season when they tried almost everything to get Carmelo Anthony to come to the team and ended up failing again in their effort, almost losing all face at their ability to convince a franchise player to come to New Jersey.

Convince is the key word.  They couldn't convince Carmelo, but they did convince the Utah Jazz to give up one of the best players in the league.

Now the problem is convincing Deron Williams to sign an extension with a team that is the little sister to the New York Knicks.

During Williams' press conference yesterday he commented that he was just getting over the shock of being traded and no extension talk would even be discussed until next season.  

Definitely some poignant words from the best point guard in the league in my view and the view of many other NBA fans.

It will definitely be an uphill battle to keep Deron in New Jersey/Brooklyn after his contract expires in 2012.  The first and most important next step in the process is luring more star players to the Nets and turn the team into a perennial contender.

Easier said than done.

That may be the most significant problem that the Nets organization think they have, but I think their biggest problem is the New York Knicks.

Let's face it; if you could pick between playing for the Knicks and playing for the Nets who would you play for?

To put it in perspective, I liken the New York Knicks to a major university and the New Jersey Nets are a branch campus of the college.

There's nothing wrong with attending the branch campus.  You get the same education, same degree, at the same cost of the main campus, but, and a big but, it's just not the same thing.

Both schools may be equal in many ways, but once you drive through the front gates of the main campus, you know you're in a totally different situation.  

The size of it is massive compared to the branch school.  There are major college sports programs and there's an entirely different night scene when you visit.  The atmosphere and aura just surrounds you on a daily basis and it's something that can't be duplicated on a branch campus.

This is exactly the same case as the Nets and the Knicks.

Bringing Deron Williams to New Jersey may make it seem like the Nets organization is setting themselves up for success, but all they're really doing is giving Deron a campus visit of the New York Knicks university while he attends the branch campus until 2012.

Deron now gets to become comfortable in his new surroundings.  He'll be able to experience all that New York City has to offer and if it's the lifestyle he likes then why wouldn't he want to take the next step to where the Division I-A athletics are played?

Do we think he'll be hanging out with his Nets teammates such as Anthony Morrow, Damion Jones and Brook Lopez or will he cross over the George Washington bridge to associate himself with his Team USA teammates Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire?

I know who I would choose to hang out with.

The New York Knicks should be thanking the Utah Jazz for gifting Deron Williams to New Jersey and letting him sit in the backroom on layaway until his contract expires.  

At that point in time in 2012 when the Knicks will have the cap room to sign a superstar point guard to go with their superstar forwards, it will be a much easier task convincing one of the best point guards in the league to sign with them.  He'll know the city, understand the lifestyle, be settled in his New York area home and be ready to take that next step in his career; competing for championships every year while also getting to play at one of the most prestigious basketball institutes in the world.

There are factors that could change everything.  Maybe Chris Paul, Amare and Carmelo really did decide to make themselves the next Big Three at Melo's wedding and they'll stick to the plans.  There's also the collective bargaining agreement that could cause problems in maximum salaries that Deron will have to consider.

I'm not saying it's a done deal, but it's definitely a lot easier than it ever was before for the Knicks to grab that third pivotal player to their roster.

So Nets fans, enjoy it while you can, because you may think you can become on par with the New York Knicks, but the branch campus is never the same as the main one.