Nets trade for Deron Williams
Trying to rebound from the disappointment of their failed pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, the New Jersey Nets have acquired Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz in another blockbuster trade for the New York area.
In a separate deal, the Nets will send the expiring contract of forward Troy Murphy and a second-round pick in 2012 to the Golden State Warriors for center Dan Gadzuric and power forward Brandan Wright.
Gadzuric's deal expires at the end of this season, clearing cap space for the Nets.
Nets Take Chance
The Nets rolled the dice in getting Deron Williams, considering he could walk after next season, John Hollinger writes. Story
The Nets are happy now, but what if D-Will bolts across the river to the Knicks in 2012 as a free agent, Stephen A. Smith writes. Story
The Nets announced a news conference for Thursday at 3 p.m. ET at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, N.J., to introduce Williams.
Nets coach Avery Johnson said at practice Wednesday that he is "excited" about the trade for Williams.
"Rarely are you able to trade for somebody that's one of the top players at their position," he said. "We know we had to give up a lot to get him, but we felt it was worth it."
Johnson was asked if this was the Plan B all along if the Nets couldn't acquire Anthony.
"This is not a Plan B," Johnson said. "It was just one that wasn't announced. One that nobody got -- until recently. He's not a Plan B. He's a Plan A also. We've been working on this for a while."
The Jazz will get New Jersey's first-round pick this year, which is not lottery protected, and Golden State's first-round pick, which is partially protected, next year. That selection is top-seven protected in 2012 and 2013 and top-six protected in 2014. If Utah has not received the pick by the 2014 draft, then the Jazz will receive Golden State's own 2014 and 2016 second-round picks.
Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that the Jazz also receive $3 million.
Nets general manager Billy King said the deal came together quickly.
"I had talked to [Jazz general manager] Kevin O'Connor yesterday," he said. "He asked me would I do something. And I said no, then I called him back and asked, 'I wonder if you'll do this.' And he said, 'Let me look at it. We talked a couple times yesterday. And then I guess he visited with his ownership. I visited with mine. And this morning we came to an agreement."
King said Williams is a building block for the Nets.
"I feel Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA. And when you want to try to win you need a point guard and a center, and I think we have two of the best," King said.
The Nets have Brook Lopez in the middle. He's averaging a career-high 19.4 points per game in his third season. But his rebounding has slipped from 8.6 per game last season to 5.8 this season.
N.Y. Hot Button: Melo vs. D-Will
Who's better: new Knick Carmelo Anthony or new Net Deron Williams?
We debate -- you decide. Vote Now!
Williams was an All-Star the past two seasons. In his sixth year in the league, the 26-year-old is averaging a career-high 21.3 points and 9.7 assists per game.
On Tuesday, the Knicks completed a blockbuster deal with the Nuggets that landed Anthony and Chauncey Billups. King was asked if he felt like he stole the Knicks' thunder.
"I can't worry about their thunder," he said.
King was just excited about the point guard that he ranked "No. 1 in the league."
"I honestly always felt he was the best point guard in the league, and that's no disrespect to anyone," King said. "I just honestly believe that."
Williams took some heat this month for the retirement of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. The two had disagreed during halftime of a home loss to the Bulls on Feb. 9. Sloan retired the next day.
"Maybe arguing was the last straw, so there I am, guilty of that," Williams said at the time. "But I think anybody who believes I could force Coach Sloan to resign is crazy. He's stronger than that and personally if I said that to him, he'd probably go tell me to go do something."
King was also excited about the Nets trade with the Warriors.
"We are very pleased to add Dan and Brandan to our roster," said King. "Dan is an NBA veteran who will add depth to our frontcourt rotation, while Brandan is a young player who we feel has significant room to grow and develop in our system."
More critical to Williams' situation is the fact that he can become a free agent after next season and hadn't made headway with the Jazz on a new deal. Utah could have faced the same kind of circus atmosphere that the Nuggets encountered with Anthony this season.
Unlike Anthony, who could opt out of his contract after this season and was allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement to sign an extension with the Knicks, Williams can't opt out until after next season and can't sign an extension until July 2011. The current CBA expires after this season, however, making all contract talk uncertain.
"I don't look at it as a risk," King said. "I look at it as we can sign him to an extension this summer. And he knows it. We know it. I look at it -- I don't think it's a risk."
The Nets had been after Carmelo Anthony, but an argument can be made that they got a player as good, if not better, in Deron Williams. Here are their stats:
King added that did he not look at the trade "as a gamble."
"I look at it as we've just acquired a player that's going to be a cornerstone of our franchise for a long time," he said.
In fact, King has already tried to sell Williams on what he considers to be a bright future for the Nets.
"I think we still have assets and young players that we can build, and that's what I was talking to Deron about as we go forward," King said. "Once we go forward with this deal, we're projected to be about $19 million under the cap this summer, and going forward we'd be roughly $26 million under the cap even further down the road."
Did King think that Williams' confrontation with Sloan had something to do with the Jazz trading him?
"I don't think it really did," he said. "I just think they looked at what was being presented and made a good decision."
Harris has played three-plus seasons in New Jersey after starting his career in Dallas. He has made one All-Star team and is averaging 15.0 points and 7.6 assists this season.
Favors, who was a major piece along with Harris in the Nets' proposal for Anthony, was the third overall pick in the past NBA draft. He's averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game this season.
"I really feel strong about losing he and Devin," Johnson said. "I was just getting to know Derrick. Obviously I have a relationship with Devin so losing both of those guys is pretty tough."
O'Connor said the trade was a "win-win" situation for both teams.
"We feel that we've addressed a current need at point guard with Deron's departure, as well as the future with draft picks and a big man," he said. "To do so we had to give up an All-Star, but we feel like this is a win for both sides."
Sloan, reached by The Associated Press Wednesday morning at his second home in Illinois, was aware of the trade but didn't want to say much.
"I have no reaction to what the Jazz are doing. We wish him well," Sloan said of Williams. "We wish the Jazz well. Good luck to Deron."
Photos: Deron Williams' career
D-Will has a new home. Enjoy photos
of his career: Deron Williams
Sloan then said he had to "go rake some leaves right now."
New Jazz coach Ty Corbin, 0-3 since replacing Sloan, received the news as he left for a shootaround in Dallas, where the Jazz were facing the Mavericks on Wednesday night.
"My initial reaction is that I'm going to miss Deron. He was a good player for us," Corbin said. "I've been with him his entire time in the NBA as an assistant coach and now as a head coach for a few games, and we're going to miss him. I wish him well as he moves forward, and we'll have to work our way through it."
King said that the Nets and Jazz are still working on all of the players passing physicals before they can play for their new teams.
The 6-foot-3 Williams was selected third overall in the first round of the 2005 NBA draft by Utah from Illinois. He has averaged 17.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 35.6 minutes per game for his career.
In 439 career games, including 406 starts, he has shot .466 (2,725-5,848) from the field, .358 (511-1,427) from 3-point range and .808 (1,615-1,998) from the free throw line. In 44 career postseason games, Williams has averaged 21.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 40.4 minutes, while shooting .458 (308-672) from the field and .796 (238-299) from the line.
Williams was expected to be one of the headliners of the 2012 free-agent class along with 2008 Olympic teammates Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, and the small-market Jazz could have faced losing him for nothing.
Now Williams could become the face of the Nets when they move into their new arena in Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season.
New Jersey has been desperate to make its first score under new owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Nets talked with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh last summer and when that failed they turned their attention to Anthony. They quickly bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on him with Williams.
The trade was a stunner on the day before the NBA's trading deadline. Williams was expecting to play with the Mavs in his hometown of Dallas when the deal was agreed to.
"Utah traded DWill??" Paul wrote on his Twitter page, adding hashtags with "EpicFail" and "notagoodlook."
Harris' head has to be spinning as well. Just Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks were talking to the Nets about reacquiring Harris, according to sources. The Mavericks had shown interest in the point guard in January and told the Nets the sides should talk again if New Jersey didn't ship him out in an Anthony trade.
Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Wednesday that a big reason the Mavs wanted Harris is because they knew that the Jazz liked him. Dallas thought it could use Harris in a deal to pry Williams from Utah.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford, ESPN.com's Marc Stein, ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo and The Associated Press was used in this report.