Utah Jazz trade Mehmet Okur to New Jersey for trade exception, future 2nd-round pick

Okur traded to nets in business move for a 2015 second-round pick, trade exception

Published: Thursday, Dec. 22 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

"We have more (big players) than other teams do," he added. "We looked at everything."

It remains possible the Jazz could make more moves as they try to regain their perennial perch in the playoffs, something they missed out on last postseason in the post-Jerry Sloan/Deron Williams era.

The trade exception, O'Connor admitted, will allow Utah flexibility and open doors previously closed. In 2010, the Jazz used a trade exception received in the Carlos Boozer sign-and-trade deal to acquire much-needed Big Al. Recently, the Dallas Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers using a similar trade exception.

"We're going to continue to look. We'll have some opportunities," O'Connor said. "You're never completely satisfied. Getting the trade exception is something that's important to us. It's like a hidden asset. You don't see it, don't feel it, don't touch it, but it's there."

Trading Okur to New Jersey creates another Eastern Conference team with multiple Utah connections. In fact, the Nets (Jazz East Coast) will have even more Beehive State connections than the Chicago Bulls (now Jazz Midwest).

All-Star point guard Deron Williams has been with New Jersey since the Jazz traded him to the Nets in February for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, cash and a protected first-round pick via Golden State.

Okur will join D-Will and former Jazz players Sundiata Gaines, Kris Humphries and even DeShawn Stevenson if a reported deal between the ex-Utah guard and Nets pans out.

Chicago only has ex-Jazzmen Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

Williams didn't hide his excitement about the deal, tweeting out, "glad to be playing with my boy Memo again!!"

Trading Okur cuts a huge chunk out of the Jazz's salaries. The 32-year-old center was set to make $10.8 million in the final season of his contract with the Jazz.

The move is somewhat surprising considering the mentoring role Okur had taken upon his shoulders in camp with Kanter, a fellow Turkish countryman.

But O'Connor said the Jazz aren't overly concerned that will affect the development of the highly regarded 19-year-old center, who was picked with the No. 3 pick in June's draft.

"Memo was great with everybody and he would've definitely helped Enes as far as he could," O'Connor said. "Bottom line, you learn on your own. Maybe (Kanter's) progress is going to be accelerated a little bit."

Okur was unavailable for a comment Thursday night, but he recently shared his thoughts on possibly being traded or having the Jazz use their amnesty option on him.

"Only I can say this is business anyway, so I'd like to stay," Okur said. "If not, I've got to look forward to play."

In nine NBA seasons, Okur has averaged 13.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists, mostly with the Jazz but first with the then-NBA champion Detroit Pistons.

Okur leaves Utah as the fourth-best 3-pointer shooter in franchise history, having made 517 treys. He's also the Jazz's ninth-highest player in points (7,255), rebounds (3,599) and blocked shots (346).

In his injury-plagued 2010-11 season, Okur averaged 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game off the bench.

The Jazz complimented Okur throughout camp for his mobility and offensive firepower. He played in Turkey during the offseason, helping him gain strength and confidence after dealing with the Achilles injury since April 2010.

Okur came into camp saying his health was back to 100 percent. But he struggled in two preseason games, first paired with Jefferson and then coming off the bench.

He only took one missed shot Monday as a starter and then scored just seven points off the bench Wednesday. In 30 combined minutes, he didn't hit a 3-pointer and grabbed three rebounds.

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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