By Jason Keidel
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The impulse is to compare one deal to the other, as all things Nets stand in eternal relief against the Knicks and are always worse, even when better.
While the Knicks sold a chunk of their soul for Carmelo Anthony, the Nets traded Devin Harris and Derrick Favors (and draft picks) for Deron Williams. Williams is younger and markedly better than Harris, who also plays point guard. And unless Favors blossoms into a perennial All-Star, the Nets win this deal. Finally.
When you’re 17-40, it’s nearly impossible to make your team worse, and the Nets need Williams’s 21 points and 10 assists per game. Badly. Draft picks are crapshoots, as the Nets know, whereas Williams is a sure thing. Should he stay with the squad, the Nets just acquired arguably the best point guard on the planet. (Or second best, at worst, to Chris Paul.)
Pundits say Williams is pouting over being shipped to New Jersey, which is understandable. He left a solid team for squalor, went from Mormon country to morbid basketball. But as a great passer in tight spots he will make it work, and make his teammates better in the process. A fellow, feisty point guard is his new coach, and will sell him on the fruits of their future.
While my heart certainly doesn’t belong to the Nets, a piece of my aorta pulses for them to win. Jason Kidd’s transcendent game was a diamond in the swamp for several years, and I still see him when I watch them. And while it’s blasphemous to tell any New Yorker that you may root for two New York teams, the Nets never really qualified.
Whether it’s East Rutherford or Newark, the Nets always played on the periphery, as measured by the fickle geographical formulas of New York sports. Wherever the Nets performed over the last quarter-century, they need only look across the river to feel small.
But soon they will hop over the Hudson, perhaps with a good team in tow. It’s hard to hate Avery Johnson or his boss, Mikhail Prokhorov, the Moscow magnate who speaks with the hard accent and soft monotone of a villain from an old James Bond film.
Just as it took years for Donnie Walsh to pull the Knicks out of the black hole Isiah Thomas dug, the Nets could be regal by the time they reach Kings County. A team grows in Brooklyn, if you will.
Moral victories are incidental to most fans. But dealing for Deron and his quick feet was no small feat. If he’s not as good as Carmelo, he’s close enough. And the Nets didn’t lose a thing they can’t recoup.
Cynics say this is a pit stop for Williams, who will bolt to the Knicks when his contract expires in 2012, become a ghost before Flatbush. Since we don’t know what will happen in a month, it’s pointless to predict by year.
It’s hard to see through the snow now, particularly from the pungent, industrial marsh of Northern New Jersey. Sometimes the best moves don’t make the back page. But the Nets just took a giant step away from Page Six.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
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