Think back to the week of last season’s trade deadline. The intolerable duration of the Melo saga had finally concluded when it was upstaged by the shocking trade of Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets. After months of speculation about a deal everyone knew would occur, an arguably more important trade occurred without anyone knowing about it in advance.
At Tuesday’s Draft Lottery I had the opportunity to speak with Utah Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, and I asked him if the Knicks had the assets to obtain Deron Williams. O’Connor stated that New York GM Donnie Walsh had put together a good team with an abundance of young players and that the assets sent out in the Melo trade were the exact ones he would have targeted had he sought to trade Williams to the Knicks. However, he continued by saying that he was happy with the trade with the Nets, as it brought them both talent and youth. He vouched for Derrick Favors’ toughness and desire, saying his quiet exterior hid a strong competitive fire. And the draft picks (one of which turned into the #3 pick) were an added bonus.
At the time of the Williams trade, Knicks fans wondered if their organization knowingly turned down a deal for Deron? The All-Star point guard would have been a better fit with Amar’e. He also could have probably been obtained for less than what the Knicks gave up for Melo. Apparently this was not the case. O’Connor revealed that Donnie Walsh had inquired about Williams before the Melo trade was completed. However the Utah GM had played it cool, not revealing that his point guard was on the market. When I suggested he may have gotten a better deal had he let more teams know Deron was available, O’Connor explained that “I didn’t want people saying, no, I don’t want to be traded to this team or that team.” To avoid leaks, they waited, content to go after whichever team ‘lost’ the Melo sweepstakes and offer them an All-Star Point Guard Consolation Prize.
With that news, Knicks fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Had Donnie not inquired about Deron Williams, that would have been a horrible, horrible lapse of judgment. A Jazz trade could potentially have created a starting five for the Knicks of Deron Williams, Landry Fields, Andrei Kirilenko, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Timofey Mozgov (with Kirilenko thrown in for salary purposes in a trade that would have included Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, multiple picks and Eddy Curry.) That line-up has some intriguing advantages over the unit that was fielded post-Melo.
However was such a lineup obtainable? Most likely not. From Walsh’s perspective Utah wasn’t looking to make a deal so the only star in play was Carmelo Anthony. The only way Deron could have ended up in a Knick uniform was if either Carmelo Anthony wished for another team, O’Connor revealed his true hand, or another team made a stronger offer for ‘Melo. Note that none of these factors were in the Knicks control, so that it was outside forces working against Williams being shipped to New York. Apparently, Deron Williams to the Knicks wasn’t meant to be.