New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov

Just when people were starting to doubt New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s ability to bring a star player to his team, this bombshell drops roughly 36 hours after he struck out on Carmelo Anthony: Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Nets have traded Devin Harris , Derrick Favors and two first round draft picks to the Utah Jazz for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Wojnarowski has also reported a side deal sending Troy Murphy and a 2012 second round draft pick to the Golden State Warriors for Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric.

The fact that Williams was traded just two weeks after Jerry Sloan stepped down as coach of the Jazz amidst reports of conflict with Williams makes it appear as though Jazz management was not on good terms with their star player. Williams was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2011-12 season and we can assume that the Jazz didn’t like their chances of convincing him to re-sign.

By trading Williams now to a team and an owner obviously hungry for star power, Utah GM Kevin O’Connor was able to acquire one of the most desirable young prospects in the league in the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Favors, a decent point guard in Harris who was an All-Star in 2008-09 and will turn 28 in four days, the Nets’ 2011 first round pick (unprotected, as far as we know at the moment) and the Golden State Warriors’ 2012 first round pick that the Nets owned and is protected for the top seven picks in 2012 . Since the Jazz are obviously planning for a retool if not an outright rebuild, this is a very good return on a player who was probably going to bolt after next season.

After failing to convince any big-name free agents to sign with them last summer and apparently failing to convince Anthony to sign an extension with them if they traded for him (unless the Nuggets simply liked the Knicks’ offer better, which is possible), the floundering Nets have a legitimate All-Star that should help them at the box office, at the very least. As if their 17-40 record wasn’t bad enough, they’re also dead last in the league in average attendance. Part of the blame for that should go to their imminent move to Brooklyn, but when the possibility of seeing Kim Kardashian in a courtside seat is your biggest draw, ticket-buyers are not going to flock to the Prudential Center.

Williams’ arrival should inject some temporary local interest in the team, and a possible on-court benefit could be his ability to help 22-year-old center Brook Lopez return to his near-All-Star form of 2009-10. If you follow the conventional wisdom that the best way to build a great NBA team is to have your best players play point guard and center, then you won’t find too many pairings that surpass Williams and Lopez if they’re both playing at their highest levels.

Since the Nets are nine games out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 25 games left on their schedule, it’s highly unlikely that this change will propel them into the playoffs this season. But more than anything else, Prokhorov’s ability to pull off a deal this big for a player of Williams’ caliber shows that he’s more than just a smooth talker with big plans. Wherever Prokhorov is right now, his miniature giraffe is probably getting lavished with kisses today.

Comments (18)

  1. Wait! That photo’s been doctored! Where are the mini giraffe and the solid gold bust of his own head??

  2. How could report on this story? You’re obviously missing out on the more important deal. Toronto just got the great James Johnson.

  3. avtar: I’m actually just about to write about that trade on Raptorblog.

  4. Yep, the Jazz got the better of that deal. Devin Harris is All-Star material and Favors could very well become that as well.

    But why go for Dan Gadzuric?

  5. @Barachat

    exactly! why the f did they trade a serviceable player (who didn’t play) in Murphy and his contract for Dan Gadzuric?

    I saw GSW play at least 10 times this season and the most minutes Dan got was about 7. He’s rather awful

    Not a clue what they’re thinking

  6. I think there’s a good chance they make another deal. Gadzuric also has a $7 million expiring contract.

  7. They also got Brandon Wright in the Murphy trade. Not bad. He’ll backup Humphries

  8. Good point, Will. I am really interested to see what Brandan Wright can do if he ever gets some playing time in a “normal” offense. Given Avery’s treatment of Favors, there’s no guarantee that a young, raw PF is ever going to get much burn there, but we’ll see.

    Hope springs eternal.

  9. Will J: Thanks for the info, I’ve updated the post accordingly.

  10. Did anyone watch the rookie/soph challenge? Favors was completely invisible, by far the worst big on the floor for either side. I was much higher on him until seeing him disappear in that game. I think he only had 5 pts in a game with no defense that ended 140-148. For some reason I can’t find the boxscore I remember looking at it after the game though and being shocked that he even had something like 5 and 7, he looked TERRIBLE. That game would have been a huge red flag for me, and I don’t see how he will get any run in Utah behind Jefferson and Milsap. I can’t believe how far D Will has fallen he must have really ruffled some feathers in Utah, Scott sounds like you were right to question his leadership in your Sloan piece a couple weeks ago. Even with all the pieces and questions about D Will I still think this is a major coup for NJ, he’s just that good. Brandon Wright seems like a bum… it appears they just replaced one busted #3 pick PF for another one, although I’ll admit it’s early on Favors I just can’t get over how non-existent he has looked in the few times I’ve seen him.

  11. Well for starters it’s possible that Jefferson and/or Millsap are going to be traded within the next day.

    And judging a guy by a rookie/soph game doesn’t seem like a very smart way of a judging a player. The game is littered with scrubs who put up monster games, and great perennial all stars who suck in a meaningless game.

    Back in 2004 Ronald Murray and Manu were both on the Soph squad. One guy had 25 points and the other had 4. You can guess who was who.

    It’s a good haul for Utah and a baffling move for NJ. D-Will wants no part of NJ, there is no chance in hell he signs an extension to stay there, and they aren’t going to compete next year regardless of what they do.

  12. great week for the raptors. Their 2 rivals get 2 of the best players in the keague in melo and d-will, and the raptors get james johnson, and over-wieght foul, prone nobody. We might as well have traded bargs for kris humphries, it just doesnt matter we will be stuck in 4th or 5th for the next 10 years

  13. Forget about BWright, Jersey fans. Sorry, I know he tantalizs with potential, but he clearly doesn’t have it or he would get more time. Keith Smart is not Don Nelson, he has no dog house and he needs bigs. He would have played Wright if he had anything to offer.

    What I love about this trade is what a giant dis it is to Dolan (or should I say Isiah?) and the Knicks, who gave away the farm and their future for short-term hype. I predict the Nets have a better record than the Knicks in 3 years.

  14. Yeah, I bet Jefferson gets moved.

    And you’re dreaming if you think D-Will isn’t going to stay in Jersey. The only way The Prokhorov lets you out of New Jersey is in a casket.

  15. Thank you for the Opulence shout-out. I would have never noticed the dogs playing poker had I not watched it again.

  16. @JD, did you watch the game? I get your Manu/Flip point but he just looked like he didn’t belong.. just awful, supposedly his best trait is his body/athletiscism which you’d think would shine in a playground game like that

  17. great deal for the jazz Favors Harris and 2 first round picks this trade has desperate allover
    it on the nets side and dont forget about James Johnson comeing to Toronto who

  18. “when utah jazz calls and tell me they have deron williams for harris,favors,and draft picks….I JUMP IN IT”

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