Breaking down the Deron Williams trade

Utah Jazz Deron Williams drives calls out a play against the Washington Wizards during the first half at the Verizon Center in Washington on January 17, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Holy surprise blockbuster, Batman! The Nets just acquired Deron Williams.

Al Iannazzone of NorthJersey.com broke the story:

The Nets have acquired All-Star point guard Deron Williams in an out-of-the-blue blockbuster. 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.

Nets fans should be dancing in the streets. The team missed out on Carmelo Anthony, but I believe that Williams is actually a better acquisition for the franchise, assuming he doesn’t bolt after the 2011-12 season.

This is a curious move for the Jazz, who are giving up a two-time All-NBA 2nd Teamer, and a player who has been jockeying with Chris Paul for best point guard in the league honors for the last couple of seasons. He’s a franchise player, and the Nets just wrestled him away for Devin Harris, a raw prospect, and two first round draft picks. Favors is a nice acquisition, but the Jazz are already set at power forward with Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. I guess the idea is that Harris isn’t too much of a downgrade from Williams — only he is — while Favors can develop in a supporting role behind Millsap and Jefferson, and eventually turn into a star. For this to work out for the Jazz, Favors needs to develop into an All-Star and Utah has to strike gold with at least one of those draft picks.

Williams clearly burned some bridges this season with his role in the Jerry Sloan resignation along with the rumors that he wanted to join the Knicks in 2012. The Nets are in a good position to add another top tier free agent that summer if they stay the course financially, even with a new collective bargaining agreement. So they have a decent shot at keeping him around for the long-term, especially with their pending move to Brooklyn.

What they don’t need are any more contracts like the one they gave Travis Outlaw last summer that averages $7 million a season. That deal really made me question the Nets’ decision-making, but this trade for Williams more than made up for it. Other than Outlaw, the Nets don’t have any contracts that extend past the 2012-13 season, so there’s an opportunity to quickly remake this roster and turn it into a winner.

After missing out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in the last eight months, it sure looked like the Nets would always be the bridesmaid and never the bride, but today they are the bride, and in a big way.

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Karl Malone speaks out about Jerry Sloan

From NBA.com:

Malone on why he thinks Jerry Sloan resigned: “I know Coach Sloan, and we can call it resigning, quitting, whatever you want to call it. The man I know never quit anything and (Jazz assistant coach) Phil Johnson never quit anything so it had to be something a lot worse than what anyone is saying because I know (Sloan). This guy wouldn’t quit anything. He’s challenged me in the huddle before and said, ‘I’ll fight you as long as I can see you.’ I said, ‘Well coach, it ain’t going to be long.’ But that’s Coach Sloan and that’s his attitude. For something like this to happen, it’s one of those things where you can have Dr. Naismith or anyone you want but the players have to buy into the system. For people to say that the game has passed Coach Sloan and he doesn’t have the fire and the passion, I say b.s. because I know this guy. Something happened but that’s for another story. We’ve lost a great ambassador and I’ll tell you like this, at some point in my life, I will carry his (coaching) tradition on. I will be more than honored to carry the tradition on. How about Phil Johnson saying, ‘You’re resigning? Well don’t leave me, I’m resigning too.’ That’s manning-up and having your back. We have to be very careful and with the things I’ve been hearing, and I don’t believe hearsay, we have to be very careful of when inmates start running the asylum. That’s what I’m going to leave it at and you know what I’m talking about.”

You can see the entire interview here.

Bucher: Deron Williams had a problem with Utah’s preparation under Jerry Sloan [video]

ESPN’s Ric Bucher discusses why Jerry Sloan left and what role, if any, Deron Williams played in Sloan’s decision.

Jerry Sloan resigns due to strained relationship with Deron Williams

Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan has words for an official during play against the Golden State Warriors in the second half at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California on January 30, 2011. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 96-81. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears…

Sloan’s relationship with point guard Deron Williams had grown progressively worse over the course of the season, league sources said, and the coach had tired of dealing with the team’s best player. The frustration escalated on Wednesday night when Sloan and Williams clashed in the locker room at halftime.

“He decided right there in halftime that he was done,” a league source told Yahoo! Sports. “He felt like ownership was listening more to Williams than they were to him anymore. He was done.”

One source said Sloan had become tired of Williams “blaming everything on everyone else.” Still, Williams, who can become a free agent in the summer of 2012, has remained the Jazz’s best and most consistent player after the departure of several key teammates. Williams has always had a reputation for wanting to win badly and being a strong leader.

This is a surprise. Sloan owns a career 1221-803 (.603) record and led the Jazz to 21 winning seasons in his 23-year tenure in Utah, including thirteen 50+ win seasons. Yes, he was fortunate to be able to coach John Stockton and Karl Malone for many of those years, but I would argue that without Sloan, that duo would not have been nearly as effective as they turned out to be. Sloan’s teams always play hard, as he has a knack for getting the most out of his roster.

It’s an absolute travesty that he never won the Coach of the Year award, though he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach in 2009. It will be interesting to see if the 68-year-old decides to coach elsewhere or if he hangs ’em up for good.

Jazz mascot vs. Cavs fan — who wins? [video]

Check out this video from a recent Jazz/Cavs game in Utah. There’s a Cavs fan there holding up a sign that reads “Jazz Stink” — that gets a 10/10 for creativity, by the way — and the Jazz mascot comes down and holds up a sign that reads “I’m a Loser” behind the Cavs fan’s back. Hilarity ensues. (Be sure to watch the whole video.)

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