So now that the Jazz basically have netted Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Marvin Williams and Trey Burke for sending Deron Williams to the team now playing in Brooklyn, everybody can declare them the winners of that trade, right?
Uh, they probably have to win a playoff game before we ever can say so.
While the Jazz continue to rebuild themselves and keep saying that all these assets they’ve gathered in the two-plus years since the D-Will deal eventually will work for them, the Nets are making it happen right now.
Brooklyn is assembling a team that’s either going to challenge the Miami Heat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference or rival the Philadelphia Eagles for a major fizzle of a roster with supposed sizzle. They’re spending tens of millions of dollars to do it, but owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the Nets like where they’re going.
Seriously, would you have guessed Brooklyn would be in this position in 2013? The Nets were not even in Brooklyn two years ago, they were in New Jersey — and struggling. And then they gave Favors, Harris (since traded for Marvin Williams), their 2011 first-round pick (Kanter), another first-rounder (Burke, in essence) and cash to the Jazz for Deron Williams.
Just look at the Nets now. In addition to re-signing Williams — who, rightly or wrongly, the Jazz never believed would stay in Utah — they’ve acquired Joe Johnson, traded for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and signed longtime Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko.
Wow. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire, is mocking the NBA’s luxury-tax system by assembling a $98 million roster that will cost him $70 million in penalties. The Jazz stand to gain about a $1.4 million distribution from the Nets and other taxpayers, according to USA Today.
The irony of the expenditures is the Nets’ signing of Kirilenko is being questioned around the league, among executives who figure something shady is happening if A.K. is signing for $3.1 million this season when he could have played out his Minnesota contract for $10 million. I’m saying a guy who has earned nearly $100 million in the NBA can afford to cut back his salary to pursue a championship.
It helps that the Nets play in the Eastern Conference, facilitating improvement, but the risk they took in acquiring Williams with no assurance that he would re-sign with them obviously worked in their favor. They wouldn’t be where they are with Favors, Harris, Kanter and the No. 21 pick in 2013 (which the Jazz paired with their own pick to move up and draft Burke).
Maybe the Nets haven’t truly won the trade yet, considering they haven’t won a playoff series themselves, but they certainly haven’t lost it.
Look, the Jazz would do this deal again, based on how they viewed their future with Williams. But to say that they’re better off now than they were in February 2011 is a huge stretch. It may become true someday, if Favors and Kanter develop into All-Stars and Burke becomes a franchise point guard.
Of course, the Jazz once had one of those guys. Since trading D-Will, they’ve started Harris, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley and Mo Williams at point guard and are about to launch their next phase with Burke, John Lucas III and Raul Neto.
The Jazz do have an intriguing future, brightened by a recent trade with Golden State that gives them two first-round picks and more financial flexibility. Brooklyn has a potentially phenomenal present.
Trading with the Jazz ultimately has put the Nets in a much better place. Here in Utah, we can only wonder when the Jazz will get there.