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Posted at 3:09 PM ET, 02/23/2011

Western Conference talent raid continues

By Michael Lee

With close to 24 hours left before the NBA trade deadline, there have already been two major moves with the Utah Jazz shipping Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets the day after the Denver Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. The East Coast is inhaling talent from the Mountain West right now, shifting the league's power structure a bit more and leaving the Western Conference with two fewer all-stars.


Yeah, John, but try making the All-Star Game now. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)

The Nets somehow managed to upstage their rivals across the Hudson River -- the Knicks plan to introduce Anthony this evening at Madison Square Garden -- by getting the cheaper and, arguably, better player. Williams is a two-time all-star who led the Jazz to four straight playoff appearances and the Western Conference finals in 2007. He gives new owner Mikhail Prokhorov the legit superstar that he has craved with the team prepared to move to Brooklyn in the fall of 2012.

In a separate deal, the Nets sent Troy Murphy to Golden State for Brandon Wright and Dan Gadzuric. Yahoo! Sports and The Record of Woodland Park, N.J. were first to report both moves.

Williams, the only player in the league averaging at least 20 points and nine assists, is a terrific consolation prize after the Nets whiffed on LeBron James and stumbled multiple times in trying to convince Anthony to sign a three-year, $65-million extension. The Jazz received Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first round picks and $3 million in exchange for Williams. In less than two weeks, Utah has lost legendary coach Jerry Sloan and one of the league's two or three best point guards who is still in his prime.

But if there was another loser in this situation, it's probably John Wall, who may have to wait a while longer before he can become an Eastern Conference all-star. The East already had two of the best young point guards in Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, and Williams' arrival means that three of the five point guards from Sunday's All-Star Game are now in the conference. Wall -- and most importantly, the Wizards -- will have to make significant improvements for him to break through.

Williams is eligible to opt out of his contract after the 2012 season, but he is slated to earn $17.8 million in 2012-13. With uncertainty surrounding the next collective bargaining agreement, the Nets have a better chance of retaining Williams, since cannot get a contract extension until July.

The Nets may be able to convince Williams to stay by going after Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who is eligible for free agency in 2012. The Knicks have to go after Chris Paul in 2012 to keep the Western Conference talent raid going.

By Michael Lee  | February 23, 2011; 3:09 PM ET
 
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (15-39) at 76ers (27-29)

Comments

The Nets gave up too much for one player. Aside from Brook Lopez, who else plays for the Knicks? The Wiz need to get involved.

Posted by: Gooddad | February 23, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the 2012 season will open with DWill and Superman teamed up in NJ, CP3 dishing to Amare/Melo....and Wiz fans expecting the Wall-to-Sullinger connection to compete.

Come on Ted, you have to open that wallet at some point in the next 2yrs and land us a big fish. There is nobody in this draft that will allow us to seriously compete with the teams forming all around us.

Posted by: divi3 | February 23, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

This talent migration is getting boring. Great article in today's WSJ comparing the NBA to the EPL.

Posted by: EYoung77 | February 23, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

We couldn't do anything when the East was the worst its ever been. Now all of a sudden it is by far the most powerful conference again and we are worse than we've been since I can remember (Worse than the Richmond team, maybe even back to before CWebb and Juwan in the Michael Adams Pervis Ellison days?). At least the shimmering ray of hope Wall is here, but I keep waiting for Ted to do something else and I am getting impatient. Everybody knows Flip is done here. I like him but he's not right for this team. Give Sam Cassell a chance and see if it ups morale to close the season. He couldn't possibly do worse.

I was flicking between the Wiz game and college hoops last night with friends, and many commented that it looked like the Wiz game was in slow motion. Its amazing to watch college players who make no money hustle so much, and then flick over to the Wiz game. It seriously looks like a different sport. Nobody on the Wiz save Wall and Booker means anything to me at this point. We don't need both Blatch AND McGee. One of them needs to go. I still have doubts about Nick's game. We need to find somebody who will take these players from us because I can't stand watching this any more. Maybe Utah is ready to blow up their team and will give us Millsap for Mcgee and Blatche? Millsap is exactly the PF everyone keeps clamoring for on here, make it happen. I wish it was next year with a new coach an GM already. Those two changes need to happen at the least or i will lose faith in Ted.

In summation, fire Flip and Ernie, make Cassell the head coach, trade everyone but Wall and Booker, and change back to the Bullets. That's all I'm asking.

Posted by: bosshog7169 | February 23, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Wiz fans expecting the Wall-to-Sullinger connection to compete.


I am hoping for a Wall - to - Sullinger Derrick Williams connection.

and getting a draft pick from Atlanta would land us with Tristan Thompson, a pretty darn good big man.

Posted by: demonj21 | February 23, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"The Nets gave up too much for one player. Aside from Brook Lopez, who else plays for the Knicks? The Wiz need to get involved."

Posted by: Gooddad | February 23, 2011 3:29 PM

That's a joke, right? Getting Williams for what they gave up was a steal, esp. compared to what the Knicks gave up for Anthony.

Oh, and Brook Lopez doesn't play for the Knicks.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I meant Wall to Derrick William not Sullinger.

Posted by: demonj21 | February 23, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Looks to me like the Nets came out ahead in the Williams trade -- provided he doesn't bail on them later.

I like Derrick Favors and Devin Harris, but Williams is the sort you can actually build a team around, provided you have the draft choices and the money to sign free agents, which NJ does.

I'd certainly rather have Deron Williams than Carmelo Anthony. But the story is Williams is really toasted about the trade.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 23, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, the Nets' ability to keep Williams will be key. But, based on all the reporting, the root of his discontent in Utah was all about the team not being able/willing to spend money to put/keep talent around him to win, and I don't see the Nets having a problem with spending money. The question is, will they be able to spend it fast/well enough to win Wiliams over before his contract is up? (I have no doubt they'll try, however).

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Jersey panicked and made a bone headed trade. No way Williams stays and they just gave up Harris, Favors a top 5 pick in 2011 and GS #1 pick in 2012 for nothing.

They were robbed they are just trying to compete for press headlines with the Knicks with no formula for the future. Thank God I am not a Nets fan, their ownership is horrible.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | February 23, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The timing of this makes me wonder:

Was the Nets 11th hour reopening of the Anthony trade talks (following Prokhorov's defiant public withdrawal) really just a ruse to push the Knicks into upping their ante in order to get Anthony? If so, it was a great play, knowing that once they gave away half their roster to get Anthony, he had a deal in place to get a better. more impactful player for a fraction of the cost the very next day, not only winning the talent grab but also stealing the Knicks' PR thunder.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"No way Williams stays"

Posted by: dcinmd1 | February 23, 2011 4:35 PM

And you know this how? Unlike Anthony, Williams has made no statement regarding a preference to be in one place over another (although I would think he'd have liked to stay in Utah, but that's obviously off the table). Everything that's been written and said about the situation says that Williams' only concern in Utah was winning and his anger over the team letting contributing players walk for no return to save money. It wasn't ego, or status, or cash that had him frustrated.

The Nets have until the end of next season to demonstrate a willingness to spend money and acquire assets to fulfill Williams' goal. If they demonstrate to him that they're getting it done, there's a good chance he'll stay. And, as with Anthony and the Knicks, the fact that they have a guy like Williams as a draw makes the job of acquiring other talent a lot easier.

is it a gamble? Sure. But they weren't likely to compete for a title or sell a lot of tickets with Devin Harris as their marquee draw.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The report on NJ convincing Deron to reup is pretty good. Jersey has the money and the market with the new digs in Brooklyn to covet other FA's.

Also, it is said that the CBA/Lockout will probably freeze any FA signings thus giving NJ even more time to lock up Williams if they don't convince him by July.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 23, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Prokorov appears to think the way to build a winner is throw money at big time players without regards to the draft. Basically 180 degrees to what Ted's plan is. Guess we'll see firsthand which one works better.

Posted by: divi3 | February 23, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The Jazz get the best of this deal Harris,Favor's(great work ethic)and two first round picks and you know those two first rounders will be lottery picks granted the Russian billionaire got plenty of cash for the free agent sweepstakes this upcoming off season but i still think Utah got the best of this deal.

Posted by: dargregmag | February 23, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Some more background on what went down in the Williams deal:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/basketball/nba/02/23/nets.trade.ap/index.html

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 23, 2011 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Ken Berger: The Hawks-Wiz deal would be Hinrich for Jamal Crawford, source says. Not done, but close. Twitter


Marc J. Spears: Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich close to being dealt to the Hawks in multi-player trade, source tells Y! Sports

Posted by: djnnnou | February 23, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Ken Berger: The Hawks-Wiz deal would be Hinrich for Jamal Crawford, source says. Not done, but close. Twitter


Marc J. Spears: Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich close to being dealt to the Hawks in multi-player trade, source tells Y! Sports


Posted by: djnnnou | February 23, 2011 6:50 PM

I got my fingers crossed.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 23, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: djnnnou | February 23, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

"But if there was another loser in this situation, it's probably John Wall, who may have to wait a while longer before he can become an Eastern Conference all-star."

I appreciate the attempt at creating a local hook for this story, but you are putting the proverbial cart waaaaaaay before the horse.

Posted by: penmask | February 23, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

"Why couldn't they have traded that punk 3 weeks ago?" -- Jerry Sloan

Posted by: randysbailin | February 23, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

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