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Inside how the Deron Williams trade went down

Mar 1, 2011, 3:42 PM EDT

Deron Williams, Avery Johnson, Billy King AP

The Deron Williams trade was as out of the blue as an NBA trade can be.

Nobody saw it coming — not even Williams. But a great bit of reporting by Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune pulls back the curtain a little on the normally very secret Jazz organization.

The story explains how the trade went down. How the Jazz felt like they were going to lose Williams. How the moves by LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony had the Jazz even more concerned. How Williams himself was frustrated because he didn’t think the Jazz would pull off the big trade to bring in enough talent for him to win.

How the Jazz did have the guts to make a superstar move, but it was to send Williams out. Go read the entire story. Here are just a few highlights.

(Williams’) increasingly bitter tone and obvious frustration had not gone unnoticed by Jazz management. (Former coach Jerry) Sloan, general manager Kevin O’Connor and anyone within the organization with basketball sense easily recognized Williams’ undeniable Olympic talent. But he still had 1½ years left on his contract and his power was growing; former small-market stars such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony had put their old teams through the fire; and the idea that Williams — who turned down a maximum contract with Utah in 2008 and could opt of his deal after the 2011-12 season — would choose loyalty over pride, money and power had gone from a possibility to nearly nonexistent.

“He never said what [Phoenix’s] Steve Nash said,” O’Connor said. “He never said, ‘Hey, I signed a contract, I really like it here. I want to finish it out. I’m committed to staying in Utah. Let’s get some players.’ It was always, ‘I’ll wait and see….’ ”

The Jazz had spent the weeks leading up to Anthony’s trade gauging Williams’ market value — a process that started after teams began dialing Utah’s number when news of Williams’ seasonlong clashes with Sloan went public, as opponents tried to sweep in and steal the disgruntled guard.

Once Anthony was finally moved, the Jazz cashed in. Utah spent the night leading up to Williams’ trade contemplating the decision, weighing whether a team that started the season 27-13 was for real, or really just one that would face another disappointing first-round playoff exit. But once the Jazz realized what was on the table — a future-laden deal that contained as little risk as possible, and one that would immediately send Williams and his mounting problems packing —Utah did not hesitate.

Moreover, by intentionally keeping the trade as quiet as possible, the Jazz negated any leverage Williams still held. By not allowing him to first go public and back the organization into a corner if he disapproved of the move, Utah was able to completely elude the 24-7 Internet rumor mill and discreetly pull off the most shocking trade of the season.

  1. digitalpoo - Mar 1, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Thumbs up to that trade

  2. loungefly74 - Mar 1, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    can’t blame the jazz. i just wish sloan, a class act, was still there.

  3. willcoop - Mar 1, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    This is the way all teams should go about business when it’s time to make trades. Take the guess work out of it by keeping the player out of it until the trade is complete. The players feel that they have all the power ( and they do) so by taking the power out of the players hands and keeping management on top instead of caving to the players wishes. Cleveland would have been better off if they had sent Lebron to the Clippers for draft picks and prospects.

  4. goforthanddie - Mar 1, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Yeah, it’s absurd the amount of coverage Mr. Vasquez got, yet you can only blame the team and the player’s rep. All deals should be done behind closed doors like that.

  5. aqzi - Mar 1, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    willcoop: I agree with you completely in that the Jazz played that part of the trade well–keeping it under wraps before the superstar could gain any leverage. As for the Cleveland Clippers thing, you have to remember that LeBron (and Wade, Melo, Bosh, and Amare) had much more leverage than Williams had because their contracts were up this year. If the Cavs had tried to do a sign and trade to the Clips for picks and prospects, LeBron would have just said no. Only thing that the Cavs have in that situation is a sign and trade to get more money for LeBron. He ended up taking less money to play on a better team anyway.

  6. stinkfingers - Mar 1, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Great move by the Jazz brass. I love Williams as a player, but there is no way he was going to stay here long-term.

    I’m just glad Kevin O’Connor and Greg Miller had the stones to pull the trigger. Good work guys. The future looks bright.

  7. ibejeph - Mar 1, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Got to hand it to D. Will…he sure can fake a smile when he has to.

  8. willcoop - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:10 AM

    In order for the owners to begin to take back the game and start making sense of this, the players have to be treated as employees and the agents treated as non employees. Usually when a yard is about to go down or when a player is disgruntled, the agent is the one usually pulling the strings. The owners don’t have to say JACK SQUAT to the agents until it’s time to negotiate. If I’m an owner and I know Dwight Howard is coming up for max money, I’m asking for his commitment to the team now, and we can get the needed parts to build a championship team. If he can’t give me a commitment then I don’t commit to him and I ship his ass to a team that is willing to Pay the freight. The players handcuff the owners and the owners are afraid to say no to these winny brats.

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