Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Devin Harris and Derrick Favors have been traded to the Jazz for Deron Williams.
Looking at Utah’s cap situation and the seemingly inevitable drama that would have followed the Jazz around next season – the “Where will Deron go?” hysteria – Utah made a gutsy decision and turned a great point guard into a very good point guard, an interesting rookie, and two draft picks.
The conclusions that we can draw are:
1. Sloan’s departure hurt the Jazz in more ways than one. Some might say that Williams hated Sloan, but the Jazz never (or almost never) lost 4 games in a row during the Sloan era.
2. Williams must have given Utah a signal about leaving. Why else would they trade the cornerstone of the franchise? He must have said or done something to show the people in Utah that he wasn’t on board for the long haul.
3. The Melo’ drama scared Utah. If we assume that Williams made it clear he wasn’t planning on sticking, then we have to wonder why Utah wouldn’t try to change his mind. It’s much easier to convince a superstar to stay than it is to replace him…but the Melo’ craziness must have shown Utah that keeping Williams was difficult. Not to mention all the media circus crap.
4. Utah isn’t going to fall off the map. Devin Harris can play, and despite his defensive problems Al Jefferson can play. Harris and Jefferson are a nice inside-out combo – throw in some shooting and Utah isn’t too bad.
The two draft picks are a nice pickup too – hopefully one of them is NJ’s and hopefully it’s unprotected. Houston’s “18 protected” pick that was rumored to be included in the Melo deal isn’t much of a first-rounder.
5. What happens to Milsap? I doubt that Utah trades him now, but moving Milsap seems like a foregone conclusion either this summer or before the next trade deadline. In all likelihood, Favors is good enough to replace him in the next year.
6. What happens if NJ can’t get Williams to agree to an extension? It’s high-stakes poker if New Jersey gives up Derrick Favors and picks for a guy who hasn’t committed. Bold.
It looks like small-market teams will be more likely than ever to jump the gun when a big player comes up for free agency. In this new era where players are all friends with one another, small-market superstars seem likely to leave…maybe that’s not a bad thing. If small-market teams build around good players, smart drafting, and fundamentals, they’ll be just as capable of playing for a championship as unbalanced “super teams” with little depth.