Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.
Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets.
Those are the headlines coming out of the NBA All-Star break and heading into the last stretch of the season.
Both the Knicks and Nets upgraded their teams for the immediate future and for what they hope is the long run as well.
For the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, who both just traded their leading scorers as they sit in the final two spots for the playoffs in the Western Conference, there are a few key questions to answer before passing judgment on the deals.
Were they going to make the playoffs this year by keeping their teams the same?
More than likely.
Were they going to win an NBA Championship by keeping their teams the same?
Very, very unlikely.
If you’re not going to win an NBA Championship — the ultimate goal — find a way to make your team better and work towards that goal.
Both the Jazz and Nuggets have done exactly that in what they received for giving up their top bucket fillers.
The Jazz say sayonara to Williams and in return receive a replacement in point guard Devin Harris, the 2010 third overall draft pick in Derrick Favors and additional first round draft picks for both the 2011 and 2012 NBA Drafts.
I understand there aren’t many Deron Williams out there. I do think the value of the four players they got in return will put them in good position going forward.
In the next two drafts they have four first round picks. If the ping pong balls bounce their way, they scout well and make good (one great) picks, they will be set for the foreseeable future.
The Nuggets gave up much more than just Anthony. With Anthony were they really going to make another run at the Western Conference Finals as they did two seasons ago?
No, and that’s why they were OK in parting with Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams too. Billups is the only part of those four they really cared about giving up.
In giving away all of those pieces the Nuggets are bringing in five players and three draft picks. The first rounder isn’t until 2014 and the second rounders are in 2012 and 2013.
Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufous and Timofey Mozgov will be able to help what is left of the Nuggets. The top two scorers for the Nuggets move on while the Nuggets are bringing in three of the top four scorers from the Knicks.
Chandler, only 23 years old, is in the midst of a career year while averaging 16 points and six rebounds a game. He is a restricted free agent and may not be around after this season.
Felton was benefitting from playing in Mike D’Antoni’s system and having better talent around him. His 17 points and nine assists are a career high.
Like Chandler and Felton, Gallinari was coming into his own in averaging 16 points a game this season.
The Nuggets now have 11 talented NBA players varying from role to above average players. They will need to try and turn some of those into a star that wants to be there, unlike
If you’re not competing for championships then do what’s best for your team to be competing for championships. It may not be next season but it should be a chance at a run in the very near future.
The Nuggets felt they were going to lose Anthony to free agency anyway. They had put up with trade rumors and discussions for six months. From what the sources and insiders are saying, they continued to force the Knicks into giving more and more (possibly with the help of a few other teams).
I’m not sure why the Jazz were ready to part ways with Williams, as he’s not a free agent until 2012. Maybe he was a distraction and behind closed doors has been a pain for them recently (see Sloan, Jerry). Maybe they felt this move pushes them closer to their ultimate goal in the near future.
Either way, these teams gave up the faces of their franchises, players fans showed up to watch, players that won them a lot of games.
They will take a hit for that. They will have crushed fans. They may not be able to replace those stars in the next three years with those players and draft picks they received.
But what they are doing, and what I trust their fan bases know (maybe understand, maybe not), is having a plan and trying to execute that plan the best they can to put themselves in the best possible situation in the near (not immediate) future.
Making the tough and not-so-popular decision is no layup.
The Knicks and Nets enjoy the stars and big numbers but don’t think what the Jazz and Nuggets did is all that bad either.
Time will tell. These teams will be back.
What I learned this week…
Facebook has reached a new level. You can sign up for Facebook Breakup Notifier and receive notification of when one of your friends changes their relationship status. … Of course, if you just never give Facebook your relationship status then you have nothing to worry about. In this day in age you aren’t official until it’s “Facebook official” though, right?
Tweet of the week…
From @dwadeofficial: Congrts to JJ on winning that 3pt contest. Way to give us our first win over Boston..#BestNewShooterinNBA
After James Jones beat Ray Allen and Paul Piece in the finals of the 3-point shooting contest. I laughed. I can’t wait for late May.
Suggestion of the week…
Watch this for a nice laugh. Who made you behave like this when you were 3 years old? … By the way, the kid got to meet Michael Young earlier this week.