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Utah Jazz: Players 'shocked' by Deron Williams trade

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 23 2011 5:18 p.m. MST

DALLAS — It was a word used often hours after the news unfolded, but "shock" might have been an understatement about how the Utah Jazz felt about the franchise's sudden and stunning end of the Deron Williams Era.

In a trade that nobody saw coming, two-time All-Star Williams was shipped off to the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday in exchange for veteran point guard Devin Harris, young power forward Derrick Favors, and two first-round picks (from the Nets in 2011 and the Golden State Warriors in 2012).

The Jazz, according to national reports, will also receive $3 million in cash from the Nets.

Utah made the deal, according to general manager Kevin O'Connor, because the franchise was "running the risk" of losing Williams when his contract expired at the end of the 2011-12 season without getting anything in return.

O'Connor stressed that this transaction — getting rid of the team captain and the franchise's featured player — had nothing to do with the run-ins Williams had with ex-Jazz coach Jerry Sloan prior to the Hall of Famer's unexpected resignation two weeks ago Thursday.

"We feel that we've addressed a current need at point guard with Deron's departure, as well as the future with draft picks and a big man," O'Connor said. "To do so, we had to give up an All-Star, but we feel like this is a win for both sides."

That part remains to be seen.

The Jazz are still dealing with the aftershock of the biggest trade in franchise history, which comes only two weeks after the sudden resignation of their coach of 23 seasons in Sloan and his longtime assistant, Phil Johnson.

"Jerry's decision had nothing to do with this," O'Connor reiterated.

Harris and Favors are expected to undergo physical exams today, with hopes that they will join the Jazz in time for Friday night's game at Indiana.

Fellow Dallas product C.J. Miles was as dismayed as anyone Wednesday morning. The small forward entered the league with Williams in 2005, and the two locker neighbors have formed a strong bond over the years.

"Nobody saw it coming," Miles said. "It was crazy."

Jazz veteran Raja Bell explained that multiple Jazz players, including Williams, were working out in the team hotel gym together when the news flashed on the TV. They laughed about the blurb that rolled across ESPN's ticker, thinking it was just a rumor.

"I was kind of shocked, a little bit of disbelief as it came across ESPN, just because I was sitting with him in the training room and he didn't know anything about it at the time," Bell said. "We kind of chuckled about it, honestly."

Ronnie Price, Paul Millsap and Kyrylo Fesenko were also with the two Jazz guards when the juicy news rolled across the screen.

"We kind of had a laugh because those kinds of things come across the ticker all the time," Bell added. "It was obvious at that point that (Williams) didn't know. After he made a couple of calls, it was obvious that it was going to go down."

Williams found out for certain that the trade was going to happen at about 9 a.m. when he received a short phone call from Jazz CEO Greg Miller.

Soon after that, Williams was bidding farewell to his teammates, who were headed to shootaround while he awaited travel plans to meet up with his new team.

Having been traded a few times during his 11-year career, Bell talked to Williams and offered his verbal support after the news was finalized.

"I told him I know where he's coming from," Bell said. "I know it's a hard pill to swallow. Regardless of what your relationship was with the team or fan base when you get traded, it's still tough."

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