Posts Tagged ‘Larry Miller’

Utah owner: No hard feelings, D-Will

In the end, Greg Miller said Wednesday, he went with his gut.

The owner of the Utah Jazz said in a telephone interview that he decided to OK the trade of All-Star guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets because of his increasing belief that the Jazz could be caught empty-handed in the summer of 2012 if Williams decided not to re-sign in Utah, as other teams have found themselves in the past year.

“The concern that we as a franchise have had all along is if you look at what happened with LeBron James in Cleveland, and Amar’e Stoudemire in Phoenix, and Chris Bosh in Toronto, there seems to be a trend developing where those marquee players get away,” Miller said. “In the case of those three teams there was very little at the end to show for it. I was very concerned that the same thing would happen to us if Deron left.”

Utah traded Williams on Wednesday to the Nets for rookie forward Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris, and two first-round picks. One of the picks is New Jersey’s unprotected first-rounder next year; the other is a 2012 first-round pick originally acquired from the Golden State Warriors. The pick is protected through the first six picks of the Draft in 2012 and 2013, and through the top seven picks in 2014. That means that the pick will go to Utah if the Warriors do not finish with one of the six worst records in the league in 2012 or 2013, or one of the seven worst in 2014. If none of those scenarios occurs the first-round pick turns into second-round picks in 2014 and 2016.

Miller said he and general manager Kevin O’Connor had conversations over the past few months both with Williams and his representatives, and that Williams was non-committal about his future every time. He didn’t say he was definitely leaving, but he didn’t say he was definitely staying, either. And the Jazz were increasingly worried that Williams would walk.

“At the end of the day, I never heard him say he was going to stay or go,” Miller said. “Just going with my gut, I just felt like he would likely be moving on. The opportunity to make this trade caught us by surprise when NJ called (Tuesday) and asked if we’d be interested in doing the deal. Kevin called me yesterday afternoon … we decided this would be a great opporunity for the Utah Jazz to preserve the value of Deron Williams by trading for these four, essentially, first round picks, and control our destiny, which I wasn’t sure we would be able to do with Deron.”

(more…)

Still Working The Frenzy

***

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Just because the biggest names have already signed their contracts doesn’t mean the 2010 free-agent frenzy is over.

Teams are still working.

The Miami Heat have to find someone to play alongside Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. All the other teams that were involved in the LeBron sweepstakes have to pick up the pieces and reconfigure themselves in time for training camp. And the teams that received generous trade exceptions for signing and trading away their top line free agents have to figure out what to do with all that flexibility.

There is still plenty of work to be done.

The Phoenix Suns are handling the departure of Amar’e Stoudemire just fine. They’ve already added Hakim Warrick and are in the midst of finalizing two separate deals to land Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress. That’s an excellent free-agent haul in any summer, what with three quality players to add to the mix for a team that made the Western Conference finals last season.

Of course, replacing Stoudemire won’t be easy. But if you can do it with quantity as well as quality, Steve Nash will be a happy man this season.

***

***

The Bulls whiffed on James, Wade and Bosh. They didn’t even get Joe Johnson, who stayed put in Atlanta. They did grab Carlos Boozer, though. Kyle Korver, too. They’ve also extended a $20 million offer sheet to Magic restricted free agent J.J. Redick,  a move that will force the Magic to either match the offer or allow Redick to join a rapidly improving Bulls team that could pose a direct threat to the Magic’s playoff aspirations.

Even with all that work done, the Bulls still have cash to spend on another big man and potentially more bench help. This is how you conduct business in the summer if you are serious about putting a better product on the floor this season than you did last.

The Nets haven’t closed up their shop since missing out on James either. Shooting specialists Anthony Morrow has an offer sheet from the Nets. And Jordan Farmar has found a home with the Nets (3-years, $12 million) after leaving a championship situation, albeit as a backup, in Los Angeles. The Nets are also poised to deal a major blow to the Heat’s plans with a reported three-year, $20 million deal for veteran power forward Udonis Haslem, who is one of Wade’s closest friends and has been a mainstay in Miami the past seven seasons.

The Nets aren’t going to contend for a title anytime soon, but they’ll be in the playoff discussion and not the lottery if they can solidify these deals in time for training camp.

Utah has a decision to make about what to do with the frontloaded offer sheet extended to Wesley Matthews by the Portland Trail Blazers. As TNT’s David Aldridge explains, the matter is complicated because of the way the offer sheet was structured:

The Blazers frontloaded the contract as allowed under league rules, adding a $3.4 million signing bonus that has to be paid as well as the $5.8 million in salary, for a total hit of $9.2 million in the first year. It was not known if that amount had to be paid within a week of the Jazz matching the offer, a common practice that the signing team puts into a contract to make it difficult for the incumbent team to match.

A factor in Utah’s favor is that by losing both Boozer and Korver, the Jazz should not be a luxury tax payer next season even if it matches the sheet on Matthews. The team’s ownership, the family of the late Larry Miller, has okayed paying tax this coming season within reason just as it did last year.

But Utah had hoped to use the mid-level on a big man this summer, knowing that it would probably have to replace Boozer and with starting center Mehmet Okur unlikely to be ready for the start of next season following an achilles’ injury. Matching the sheet on Matthews would remove that option.

Watching Matthews work defensively on Kobe Bryant during the playoffs last season was a revelation. Few rookies would have accepted that challenge the way he did. So we can understand why both teams would want to have Matthews on their side.

***

***

Oh, and if you hadn’t heard, the No. 1 pick in the Draft has made his NBA debut as well. Washington point guard John Wall shook off some early jitters and helped the Wizards to a win in Las Vegas. In fact, there are plenty of rookie highlights to be had in summer league action. Check out Drew Packham’s Rookie Ladder on NBA.com for the latest.