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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz have brought a Williams back to play point guard; the one that Kevin O'Connor calls his biggest mistake to lose, but not the Williams (Deron) traded last year, this is Mo.
The Utah Jazz have completed a four-team trade that will bring Williams back to Utah where he was drafted with the 47th pick in the 2003 draft. The deal was first announced during the NBA draft, but was on hold until Williams chose to exercise his $8.5 million option for next year.
He played his rookie year for the Jazz then was signed by the Bucks. He then played in Cleveland before being traded to the Clippers during the 2010 season. He is a score-first point much in the mold of Devin Harris, so what is the upside of bringing in the veteran, here is a look at what analysts across the country are saying about the trade.
John Hollinger of ESPN writes about the trade with a glowing review for the Jazz. (Link is ESPN Insider only)
"The big winner here is Utah, which gets Williams for free. It's tough to beat that price... Williams' $8.5 million salary fits neatly into that exception, and since he's on a one-year deal, it keeps the Jazz's books pristine after this season. Utah will have just four players under contract and a jaw-dropping $40 million in cap room.
"For the short term, Williams is a possible upgrade on Devin Harris as a starter and a certain improvement over the Jamaal Tinsley-Earl Watson contingent that backed Harris up. Additionally, Williams can play some 2 and provides the shooting-starved Jazz with some much-needed 3-point shooting.
"All told, it's a decent piece of opportunism from the Clippers and a spectacular one from Utah. Nonetheless, all eyes will be on Dallas. If the Mavs get Deron Williams, this trade is a home run."
Two trains of thought exist in his review. The first is the possible upgrade for this season. The Jazz just picked up Tinsley's contract so the Jazz will have four point guards on roster, like the end of last year. Where Williams is a definite upgrade is his shooting. He is a 39 percent 3-point shooter and an 87 percent free-throw shooter, compared to Harris' career 31 and 80 percent.
The other note is that his contract runs out next season which gives the Jazz the flexibility to build their team however they want in the following free-agency period, while still having a young core, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors specifically, to build around.
Ben Golliver of CBS Sports looked into the possibilities raised for Williams and Harris, "In Williams, the Jazz get a capable starting point guard or an excellent third guard, depending on what they decide to do with Devin Harris, who is always on the trade block in one form or another and is now entering the final year of his contract."
Harris had his name thrown around during last year's trade deadline and with both players' contracts expiring they could flip either player if the position is a surplus or a deal comes along. Most analysts look at the flexibility for the Jazz as one of the biggest assets from this trade.
Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld brought up what this could mean for next season, "Utah has a cap plan that allows for major spending next summer and Williams' expiring contract fit rights in (as long as he doesn't sulk without an extension)."
Whether Williams becomes a long-term answer or a stop-gap remains to be seen, but the 10-year guard out of Arkansas was able to put up 13 points and three assists playing behind Chris Paul in L.A. That average would have him as the third highest scorer on the Jazz and his 3-point and free- throw shooting would put him top two in each category on the team.
Along with the Williams trade the Jazz were busy taking care of their own. With the team picking up the option on Tinsley and DeMarre Carroll and offered a tender on Jeremy Evans, making him a restricted free agent and giving the Jazz a chance to match an offer if another team tries to sign the dunk champ.