On Feb. 23, 2011, the Utah Jazz traded Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, the 2011 draft pick that became Enes Kanter and Golden State’s 2012 conditional first round pick. The trade came 13 days after Jerry Sloan retired from coaching in a move many blame Williams for because of his perceived moody attitude.
It was a proactive move made by Jazz general manager (GM) Kevin O’Connor. Williams will be a free agent after the 2012 season and with the uncertainty of an impending lockout at the time, O’Connor felt that the Jazz would have been put in a similar situation that the Nuggets were in when they traded Carmelo Anthony to get as much value for a superstar who was expected to leave when free agency hits.
O’Connor worked with Nets G.M. Billy King in Philadelphia and they were able to keep the deal out of the rumor mill and completed the trade quickly. One year after the trade, the Nets seem to have the short term advantage.
Williams is averaging 22.2 points per game and 8.2 assists per game while starring on a team that is 13th in the Eastern Conference. Williams made the All-Star team in 2012 for the third time in his career and outplayed current phenom Jeremy Lin by scoring 38 points and adding six assists in a Nets 100-92 win last week.
Ultimately the question for the Nets long term is whether or not they can sign Williams to a long term contract, making him a Net for the rest of his career.
Williams is the star player the Jazz are currently lacking, a guy who can single handedly take over close
games with his scoring and passing skill. While he would have helped the Jazz this year, Williams made it clear that he would not resign with Utah. The Jazz are currently last in the Northwest Division and are in the middle of a long term rebuilding project that will last for two or three more years.
Devin Harris was an All-Star in 2009 but unfortunately for the Jazz, he has not produced the results the Jazz were anticipating. At 9 points per game and 4.5 assists per game, Harris is playing below average for a starting point guard, and at only 29 years old, he is playing awful for a guy who’s supposed to be in the prime of his career.
The key for the Jazz in this trade is the continued development of Favors and Kanter, the 3rd overall picks in the 2010 and 2011 NBA Drafts, respectively. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson both playing 32 minutes per game, inside minutes are limited.
Favors is averaging eight points in just over 19 minutes per game. His best game of the year came in the home opener when Jefferson was out with an ankle injury. Favors scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds in a 102-99 win. Favors is a great athlete at 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds and being only 20 years old, he has a bright future.
Kanter was the draft pick the Jazz acquired from New Jersey in the trade. Kanter’s best quality is his rebounding and strength inside. He averages one rebound for every three minutes on the floor. While his offensive game is still a work in progress, at 19 years old, Kanter is definitely worth keeping and could develop into a star.
While the Nets currently have the advantage in this trade, the potential of Favors and Kanter, who are both under drinking age, means the verdict of this trade is still three or four years away.
With depth inside, the Jazz could make a trade before the March 15th deadline to improve their perimeter shooting and outside game. While the Jazz are currently in last place in the Northwest Division, with young guys such as Kanter, Favors, Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward, there is a nucleus being built. Rebuilding a franchise takes three or four years. The Jazz, only one year into the project, are headed in the right direction.