Deron Williams just got traded to the New Jersey Nets (!!!!!!) in a monster 3-way trade that nobody saw coming. The Jazz are getting NJ rookie Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris and two first round picks, the Warriors are getting Troy Murphy from the Nets, and the Nets are getting Dan Gadzuric from the Warriors*. This is stunning on multiple levels, but let’s focus on the Jazz, who have lost their Hall of Fame coach and star point guard in a span of two weeks.
Last year, the Jazz (basically) had this starting lineup:
Their 6th man was Paul Millsap.
Of those top six players, only three remain – AK-47, Okur, and Millsap. Matthews signed with Portland, Boozer signed with Chicago, and today, Williams was traded. Toss in their coach’s departure, and you have a full-blown rebuilding project.
My initial reaction is that the Jazz got hoodwinked, but I’d love to hear more behind the logic, especially because of the Sloan factor. Mikhail Prokhorov, the New Jersey Nets owner who was ripped in the last 24 hours for swinging and missing in free agency last year and then with Carmelo Anthony, just pulled off a fantastic trade. He got the Knicks to raise their offer to Melo, essentially gutting the franchise, and then swept in and took one of their 2012 targets, Deron Williams. Masterful.
Now the question becomes – who can the Nets surround Williams with? Brook Lopez isn’t a bad place to start, and they have some decent role players in Humphries (rebounds) and Outlaw (shooting, if he ever gets the touch back he had in Portland). My first inclination would be that the Nets want to make a run at Dwight Howard in 2012, and they’ll have the cap space to do it. The question could become – does Dwight Howard want to go to a post-Kobe Bryant wasteland in LA (potentially), or play with one of the league’s best point guards?
Prokhorov just completely shook up the NBA.
[UPDATE: The Nets also got Brandan Wright from the Warriors. He was a stud at UNC but got buried in Don Nelson’s doghouse and never really had a chance.]