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Kragthorpe: Jazz's dealing of D-Will looking better all the time

Published July 5, 2012 8:52 am

NBA • Trade of Deron Williams has triggered series of moves that has restocked Utah roster.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sixteen months after trading their only All-Star player, the Jazz have succeeded remarkably in restocking their roster with Williamses.

The same is true of the Salt Lake Valley's population.

After losing point guard Deron Williams and his growing family, the Jazz basically have replaced him with Mo Williams, who's bringing his wife and four children to town. And once another trade is finalized, they'll be joined by Marvin Williams, who's being exchanged for Devin Harris, who came via the trade for Deron Williams and became expendable when the Jazz acquired point guard Mo Williams.

Make sense?

Here's another way of sorting it all out: By trading Deron Williams to New Jersey (now Brooklyn), the Jazz's net gain is Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Marvin Williams and, presumably, Golden State's 2013 first-round draft pick.

Via another set of transactions, they essentially traded Mehmet Okur for Mo Williams, who was introduced Tuesday at the team's practice facility and promised to "show you that I can lead this team."

Anyone would have to say this is all working out nicely. Maybe it was just driven by desperation, worrying that Deron Williams would not re-sign with the Jazz this summer. With D-Will's Tuesday announcement that he's staying with the Nets, that outcome may suggest the Jazz were overly paranoid.

Even so, the Jazz would just about have to do that deal anyway, right? They'll end up with three players taken in the top three of the draft. While not yet confirming the trade with Atlanta for Marvin Williams (No. 2 in 2005), Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor acknowledged liking the outcome of the February 2011 trade of Deron Williams.

"It was a move that we needed to make," O'Connor said. "Now as we look at some of the deals that have gone on and some of the deals that have happened, we feel fortunate that we were able to make it at the time that we made it. I think if you look at what it brought us, we're able to play into the future with it."

That future is not completely clear, of course. As the roster stands, cornerstone players Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams are entering the last years of their contracts in 2012-13, and Marvin Williams will have an option for the following season. Keeping everybody will be impossible, which is the reality of today's NBA. O'Connor must make some decisions this summer, or hope that the dynamic of contract seasons will provide extra incentive at the expense of losing one or more players via free agency next year.

"It's an evaluation process that we'll have during the season. … Hey, we've all been in the last year of contracts at some stage," O'Connor said. "Hopefully, it puts an edge on them."

In the case of Mo Williams, who will turn 30 in December, this season becomes both a homecoming and an audition. Asked about a long-term contract with the Jazz, Williams said, "That's the goal, absolutely." O'Connor responded, "It's ours, too."

The Jazz once lost Williams as a free agent, following his rookie season of 2003-04. In those days, he was making the minimum salary of about $400,000 and living alone in an apartment. A major housing upgrade is both feasible and necessary, now that he's earning $8.5 million and raising his expanding family, with another child arriving soon.

The Jazz have grown and regressed during Williams' eight-year absence, and he's catching them on another upswing. The season after he left for Milwaukee, the Jazz became so bad that they were able to draft Deron Williams. Now that Mo-Will is back, the Jazz just might be getting good enough to succeed without D-Will.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt