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Friday, November 28, 2014

Could Deron Williams Have Been a Knick?

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.

9 comments on “Could Deron Williams Have Been a Knick?

  1. TDM

    So if Walsh had maintained that Mozgov was the breaking point for the Melo trade, as reported around the time the trade went down, Melo may have ended up with the Nets and DWill with the Knicks. Hmmm. . .

    By the way, it looks like predraft measurements are out. You always see a couple of guys that shock you in the measurements one way or another. For example: Kenneth Faried – only measures out at 6’6″ without shoes! That means he is shorter than Landry Fields, and slightly taller than Andy Rautins. Granted, Rodman was only 6’6″ but I’m not ready to give Faried that much credit before he even suits up for a pro team.

    http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-pre-draft-measurements/?year=2011&sort2=DESC&draft=0&pos=0&source=All&sort=2

  2. Z

    Huh? The Knicks had the package O’Connor wanted, and when the Knicks called they said he was unavailable? All so that Williams wouldn’t have time to veto a trade to the Nets?

    Why not just deal with the Knicks and make everybody (but Carmelo) happy?

    But, I suppose there were other weird things O’Connor was doing around that time… Like firing Jerry Sloan to appease their franchise player, only to turn around and trade the franchise player too.

  3. Owen

    Good piece, I’d much rather have Williams than Melo so I am glad it couldn’t happen….

  4. Robert Silverman

    Z:
    Huh? The Knicks had the package O’Connor wanted, and when the Knicks called they said he was unavailable? All so that Williams wouldn’t have time to veto a trade to the Nets?

    Why not just deal with the Knicks and make everybody (but Carmelo) happy?

    But, I suppose there were other weird things O’Connor was doing around that time… Like firing Jerry Sloan to appease their franchise player, only to turn around and trade the franchise player too.

    It sounds like O’Connor was waiting to see who lost out on Melo and then deal with them. Telling the Knicks Deron was on the market would/could have gotten the information public, made Deron voice his dismay about a Nets deal, lowered the asking price on Melo, and basically turned the whole thing into even more of a circus/kerfluffle than it already was.

    Since he would have been happy from the assets from either team (in reading this, it doesn’t sound like he PREFERRED the Nix package to the Nets), his strategy is sound.

    Though I too, think Deron would be better short & long term than Melo.

  5. Brian Cronin

    I continue to call BS on O’Connor’s comments about how the Knicks had the kind of assets he was looking for for Deron. He keeps saying that, but if he truly believed it there was no way that he wouldn’t have gotten involved in the mix before the Melo deal went down. He clearly had to have been targeting the Nets’ pick and Favors as what he really wanted (plus Harris to hold the spot for now), and was just waiting until the Melo deal happened because if Melo did not go to the Knicks, then the Favors/pick deal wouldn’t have been there, so why bother pissing off Deron if the deal wasn’t even going to be made?

  6. Robert Silverman

    I think O’Connor would agree w/you, Brian. Saying the Knicks had “The kind of assets” he was looking for isn’t denying he preferred Favors, etc., but admitting that he would have turned to NY as Plan B had Melo gone to NJ

  7. Brian Cronin

    I think O’Connor would agree w/you, Brian. Saying the Knicks had “The kind of assets” he was looking for isn’t denying he preferred Favors, etc., but admitting that he would have turned to NY as Plan B had Melo gone to NJ

    That’s the thing. I don’t think he would have taken the New York assets as Plan B. I think he would have either surreptitiously shopped D-Will to another team or just held on to him rather than trading him for the Knicks’ package.

  8. John Kenney Post author

    Eh, possibly Brian. But when I asked him he said yes so quickly and so assertively that I believe him. He would have to be oddly committed to playing up that belief if he’s lying, and I don’t see why.

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