The Nets pulled off one of the biggest trades of the season, and it wasn’t for Carmelo Anthony. In fact, pretty much everyone agrees that the player they got, Deron Williams, is better than Melo. The Cavs also made a trade for a big-name PG, acquiring Baron Davis, along with a first-round draft pick. I am curious if these two down-and-out clubs didn’t just make things worse for their futures, however. Allow me to explain.
New Jersey Nets
No doubt Deron Williams is a great PG. He’s one of the NBA’s 5-best, and he’s in the discussion as the league’s #2 table-setter behind Chris Paul. As good as he is, no one is pretending he’s getting the Nets into the playoffs this year; they’re 10 games back with 25 games left, so that’s that. But certainly NJ can build something around him next year. Unless there’s a lockout. Which everyone is expecting. And they’re expecting it to last a long time. Possibly all of next season.
So if there’s a long lockout in 2011-12 like pundits and fans alike are anticipating, Williams would have played less than two months on a bad team and then his contract would be up. Sure, he has a player option for the next year, but what would be the point in staying? He’ll have every team tripping over themselves to gain his services, so he could sign somewhere good right away. I guess he might stay in order to get that $17.8 million option that he probably won’t be able to get after the new CBA is signed, but who’s to say that 2012-13 won’t become another Melo situation where the superstar wants out and can force the team to look for trades all season. I suppose the Nets are banking on other stars wanting to come to Brooklyn in two seasons to play next to Williams, but they did just see what Williams did to Utah’s team plans over the past month, right? I would not be shocked to see Williams out of NJ within 24 months, and then where are they at?
They’ll be without their PF of the future, Derrick Favors, who is rebounding well, shooting decently, and showing some good things on defense. He has all the tools, plus the all-important desire and lack of attitude problems, to become a Nene-esque, defensive-anchor big man who can also score points at a high percentage. They also gave away Devin Harris, who is a decent PG and is signed through the 2012-13 season, a season that might become a nightmare for the Nets if Williams is clamoring to get out (or never comes back for). Plus they gave up two first-round draft picks. One of those is theirs from this season, which will likely be a top-5 selection. Considering there are only three or four players anyone really wants in this super-weak draft (Kyrie Irving, Enes Kante, Jared Sullinger, and maybe Jonas Valancinus for my money at this point), that pick has real potential to be something good compared to what everyone else will be stuck selecting this year. I’m not sure what the other first-round pick they traded away is (hopefully the Lakers’ first-rounder from this year), but it all seems like too much. They gave away a lot of potential that they can keep locked up for many seasons for a player who has expressed no interest in New Jersey who might only play two months before his contract is up. Ouch.
The Cavs have been saying for a month now that everyone is available, and they just sent team mainstay Mo Williams off to LA for one of the gutsiest PG’s in the league, Baron Davis. Unfortunately, Davis is clearly on a downward trajectory, which is only made worse by his knee ailments, and made even worse still when you realize he’s always kinda hurt (he’s played less than 68 games in 7 of his last 9 seasons). Plus he’s owed $29 million over the next two seasons. Plus he’s a terrible shooter (42% FG, 30% 3FG) who likes to shoot.
Cleveland also picked up the Clippers’ first-round draft pick this year, which currently sits around the #9 spot. Except LAC is getting better and might end up putting the pick in the 10-13 spot. Unless the Cavs hit the lottery gold and end up with a top-3 selection, that pick is worth almost nothing in this terrible draft year. All they had to give up in order to get an overpaid PG quickly on the decline and a worthless draft pick that’s guaranteed money was Mo Williams (and Jamario Moon). I’m not a Williams fan by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s only due $17 million over the next two seasons. The Cavs just took on significantly more salary and a player that will have no part in turning a club around. If anything, he’ll have something to do with poor attitudes in the locker room and a collective lack of team drive to work harder.