Grading The Deron Williams Trade
PG DERON WILLIAMS
PG DEVIN HARRIS, PF DERRICK FAVORS, 2011 1st round pick (Nets), 2012 1st round pick (Golden State via Nets), $3 million
NEW JERSEY GRADE: A-
I thought the Nets did exceptionally well in this deal, mainly because no one knew it was going on. Unlike the Carmelo deal that was completely aired in public and was basically dictated by the player himself, this deal was done in private and was built between the Jazz and the Nets. Now I’m sure a few additional teams called the Jazz asking for the availability of Williams, but I doubt there was much in the way of substantive discussions. This allowed the Nets to strike quickly and complete the deal, not only did it ensure that there wouldn’t be a bidding war, but the Nets quickly answered their soon to be city rival’s acquisition of Carmelo Anthony. As indicated by my grades I prefer what the Nets did over what the Knicks did, because of the additional contracts New York took on.
While Devin Harris was a good point guard, Williams is still a big upgrade because he is simply a star. He’s one of the top 10 players overall in this league and plays a prime position. He is a better shooter, passer and floor leader than Harris, which should make the Nets’ other star Brook Lopez a better player as well. Since the Nets lacked production from their 2, 3, and 4 positions they had to get another true star. Adding Williams is great because at PG he can impact everyone else.
As for what they gave up I don’t think it will come back to haunt New Jersey. I really do like Devin Harris and think he is a playoff caliber guard. The problem is he needs to be on a team with 2 other stars, and shouldn’t be a focal point of the offense. If he is a team’s 3rd or 4th option I think he can be very effective, but as a true star he will always be overmatched. As for Favors, I’ve never been too high on him and thought he was a reach for the Nets last year. While he has a ton of potential I think it will take him a couple years to reach it. While Favors doesn’t have an expensive contract because he is on the rookie scale, he’s not exactly a bargain either. It’s quite possible that two years from now Favors is still languishing on the bench and eating up valuable cap room. Right now perception is above reality for Favors and they were able to capitalize and land a true star. The draft picks are another matter, but 2011 is looking like a fairly weak draft class so in all likelihood the Nets are only sacrificing a solid starter there (unless of course the Nets would win the lottery). As for the 2012 pick, it has some protections from being a top selection and with the Warriors playing better basketball it is likely to be a pick in the teens. Again it could yield a solid starter but no guarantees.
Yes there is a chance that Deron Williams leaves after next season, but with an impending move to Brooklyn and a new stadium it could be enough to convince Williams to stay. Now I think the Nets will need to have a good offseason and add some talent via free agency. If they can do that and begin to compete, I see little reason why Williams would look to leave.
UTAH GRADE: C+
In a vacuum I’m not a huge fan of this deal for the Jazz. When you have one of the 10 best players in the game, you should try to do everything in your power not to lose him. And if you are going to lose him, you should probably have a bidding process to ensure you are getting the best possible deal. I can’t believe that a contending team (or even other non-contenders) wouldn’t give up more for a star like Williams. Devin Harris is a nice replacement, but the rest of this deal should have improved the Jazz and I don’t believe it really did.
Does giving Derrick Favors minutes over Milsap, Okur or Al Jefferson make any sense? All of whom are signed for at least next season, with Milsap and Jefferson signed for 2012/2013 as well. I don’t see how Favors will be much of an asset these next two seasons, at a time where Williams would have kept the Jazz as a playoff contender. While Favors contract extends beyond that, he’s going to have to vastly improve to duplicate the value Williams is bringing to the Nets (particularly if the new CBA offers some sort of ‘franchise’ player distinction keeping him in New Jersey another season). I realize there is a chance this could allow the Jazz to trade Milsap or Okur (to help get under the luxury tax they are now going to have to pay), but unless they land a good wing player it’s probably a bad trade. If you trade them just to clear cap room and create playing time for Favors, it is hurting this team in the long run.
As for the first rounders, they are nice and all, but won’t lead to stars. Hopefully the Jazz can use these picks to help them land another young star. No it won’t be someone on Williams level, but they could get a good young player if they play their cards right. I would hang on to the Nets pick until at least the Lottery since it has a chance of being a top 3 pick. If they do luck out in the lottery, then I would give them more of a B to B+ grade.
Overall, I don’t mind developing a young talent like Favors, but considering you gave up your best player, and an elite star in this league, you shouldn’t have to wait so long for a return. If Favors doesn’t produce in the next couple of years, this trade grade likely falls to an F, and right now I don’t have much faith in the current grade. The Jazz should have landed a better return for their star, and unless they luck out in the lottery/draft I’m guessing this deal haunts them for some time.