Nets acquire All-Star point guard Williams trade with Jazz

Feb 24 2011 - 7:35pm

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Nets couldn't close a deal for Carmelo Anthony, but they closed one for a franchise-changing player and arguably the NBA's best point guard, multiple league sources told The Record.

Utah Jazz Deron Williams is headed for the Nets. The Nets have acquired All-Star point guard Deron Williams in an out-of-the-blue blockbuster on Wednesday. In the deal, the Nets will send Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two No. 1 picks to the Utah Jazz. Williams is averaging 21.3 points and is third in the league in assists, dishing 9.7 per game.

The deal has been agreed upon. It's pending league approval and everyone passing their physicals.

In a separate trade, the Nets will ship Troy Murphy to Golden State for big men Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright. A second-round pick also may go to the Warriors.

Williams' arrival should make the Nets a competitive team again and give them their first real superstar in his prime since another point guard, Jason Kidd, lobbed alley-oop passes and hoisted Eastern Conference championship trophies for New Jersey.

Nets general manager Billy King rebounded quickly after learning Anthony would be headed to the Knicks on Monday and was able to put this deal together.

King called Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor -- the two are close from their time working together for the Philadelphia 76ers -- and inquired about Williams. He had run-ins with ex-Jazz coach Jerry Sloan that contributed to his resignation two weeks ago and undoubtedly had something to do with O'Connor deciding to make this trade.

The two sides came to an agreement Wednesday morning, a day short of the NBA trade deadline.

The picks the Nets are giving up are theirs this year and the likely Warriors' protected pick next year. There could be more involved, and players included to make the salaries match.

But it's a great deal for the Nets because they're giving up far less than they would have for Anthony and getting someone who is sure to make everyone around him better. Brook Lopez, especially, should benefit from playing with Williams.

The Nets also didn't have to meet with Williams, 26, or try to convince him to sign a contract extension, which they couldn't do with Anthony. But they hope they can keep Williams' long term and make him the centerpiece of the team when they open up the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2012.

Williams is signed through next season and has a $17.8 million player option for 2012-13. The Nets still have draft picks and flexibility and will try to acquire star-caliber players and see if Williams' presence can attract some in an effort to get him to commit to the franchise into Brooklyn and beyond.

Williams has career averages of 17.3 points and 9.1 assists in 5 1/2 seasons. He's led the Jazz to the playoffs the past four seasons, including one trip to the Western Conference finals.

In each of the prior three seasons, Williams averaged at least 10.5 assists. He's scoring more this season to make up for Utah losing Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver. But this season has been marred by the riff with Sloan.

Williams and Sloan reportedly had a heated exchange at halftime of the Feb. 9 game against Chicago. Williams ran a different play than what Sloan called, leading to the argument. Sloan grew tired of the struggles with Williams and resigned the next day.

That and the growing belief that Williams would opt out and sign elsewhere after next season probably were the reasons he was made available. The Jazz likely were going to trade him at some point next season and not risk losing him as a free agent.

The Jazz received pieces that could help them rebuild in Harris, the 19-year-old Favors and two No. 1s. The Nets' pick this year is expected to be in the top 10.

The Nets had some contingency plans if the Jazz turned down the deal. They were going to send Harris to Dallas for a package that included small forward Caron Butler and a first-round pick.

They also talked about dealing Harris to the Blazers for Andre Miller, Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden, although Portland was reluctant to part with the oft-injured big man.

Those moves would have given the Nets additional flexibility and assets, but getting Williams gives them a superstar, something they haven't had since Kidd left three years ago.

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