In the history of good basketball decisions, this one ranks up there with replacing peach baskets with hoops and nets.
It wasn't easy, mind you, but for the Utah Jazz, trading All-Star point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey last week was a smart move.
Over five-plus seasons, D-Will became the face of the Jazz franchise, no doubt about that. He was their leader, their captain, their star. And when management abruptly traded him last Wednesday, it was a real shocker.
D-Will? Gone? No way.
But after that initial shock, it all made sense. Given the events of the last couple weeks -- Jerry Sloan's departure, the Jazz's losing streak and rumors that Williams wanted to play elsewhere after his contract expired following the 2011-12 season -- D-Will's relationship with the Jazz had deteriorated.
Perhaps "deteriorated" isn't the right word. It didn't deteriorate so much as it simply began to fray under the added pressure Williams was feeling.
February 2011 will go down in Jazz history as arguably the franchise's most trying moment in time. Their Hall of Fame coach left abruptly. Their All-Star point guard was accused of facilitating the breakup. On the court, their hallmark consistency was nowhere to be found.
Between Jan. 14 and Feb. 16, the Jazz went from 27-13 to 31-26 and left a wake of turmoil and question marks.
Seeing as how Williams was the team's leader, it was incumbent upon him to step up and rally his team. Instead, it appeared the Jazz were going to sink father and father down the standings as D-Will became increasingly indifferent to the team's plight.
He's a competitive guy, so of course he wanted to win every time he stepped on the floor. But as the frustration mounted and the Jazz's situation worsened, Williams failed to show the team and its fans he was serious about staying here and righting things in the post-Sloan era.
In fact, he did the opposite. He distanced himself emotionally and when questions arose about his commitment to the Jazz's future, he balked.
So they very quietly went about trading him to the Nets. And just like that, he was gone.
"What it boiled down to for me was my gut sense of whether or not we'd be able to re-sign Deron," Jazz CEO Greg Miller said last week. "While I never saw any indication that he absolutely wouldn't sign with us, I didn't see any indication that he would re-sign with us."
In those two sentences, Miller perfectly characterized the situation. If they felt D-Will was going to stay in Utah long term, the Jazz certainly would have kept him around.
But Williams gave no indication he wanted to stay, so rather than letting him walk away after the 2011-12 season, they traded him now and got some assets in return.
In doing so, the Jazz saved themselves and their fans a lot of drama, confusion and heartbreak.
Did anyone see what happened with LeBron James and his former team last summer? It was a circus sideshow and it left the Cavaliers in shambles.
Did anyone notice how Carmelo Anthony held the Denver Nuggets hostage with his refusal to sign a contract extension? Anthony made it clear he wasn't going to stay in Denver and eventually forced the team to trade him to New York.
For better or worse, Williams was heading down that same path. Sure, he might have stayed in Utah and been perfectly content here. But there was an even greater possibility he was going to hit the road the moment he became an unrestricted free agent.
Even worse, the will-he-or-won't-he drama would have become a huge distraction. How can a franchise rebuild (or reload) in the face of such uncertainty?
So, even though it was difficult to trade their beloved two-time All-Star, the Jazz made the right decision last week.
Make no mistake, the franchise still remains in a precarious situation and the future is still uncertain. But at least the Miller Family and general manager Kevin O'Connor made an attempt to control the Jazz's own destiny, and doing that is never a bad decision.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can reached at (801) 625-4265 or at email@example.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247