SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz fans aren't the only ones shocked by the news that All-Star guard Deron Williams is leaving the team in a trade that will bring New Jersey Nets power forward Derrick Favors and veteran point guard Devin Harris to Utah.
NBA watchers nationwide were buzzing about the news on Wednesday.
For example, Fox Sports reported, "The Nets, under billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, were looking for a superstar to build around as the team gets set to move to Brooklyn in 2012-13."
CBS News called the trade a "major coup" for Prokhorov, "who lost out to cross-river rival New York in his pursuit of (Carmelo) Anthony but arguably gets an even better prize for some of the pieces that were bound for Denver in a deal that was agreed to last week for Anthony."
San Jose Mercury News blogger Tim Kawakami wrote that the Williams deal topped the deal that sent Anthony to the Knicks.
"Blink, and Prokhorov just landed a better player than Anthony, for a good package (Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and picks) but for arguably less than what NY had to mortgage to get Carmelo," Kawakami wrote. "And with none of the 7-month angst and over-negotiation."
The New York Times sports blog called the Williams deal part of an "arms race" on both sides of the Hudson River.
Whether the New Jersey players will be happy with a move to Utah is not yet clear. Prior to the weekend All-Star game, Favors told the New York Post that no one from Nets management had talked to him about an imminent trade.
"I really want to be in New Jersey, but I can't control it," Favors told the Post at that time.
NBA.com's David Aldridge said the Jazz have had their eyes on Favors for a while: "Favors, the rookie power forward from Georgia Tech, was a player the Jazz had coveted before last year's Draft. He will provide a solid one-two inside presence with Jefferson."
ESPN.com's John Hollinger pointed out that the Williams deal is a long-term gamble if Deron chooses not to stay in New Jersey when his contract ends. "Ultimately it comes down to one thing: Whether this is where Williams wants to be for the long haul," Hollinger wrote. "If it is, then this will be a huge coup for the Nets...But if Williams remains unhappy with this trade, the house of cards begins to collapse."
On the other hand, Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer wrote that the Jazz might have swapped one problematic point guard for another. "Harris can play...The problem with Devin is that he has also essentially taken the past two seasons off. Despite his significant talent and ability to shape the course of a game, Harris is clearly disinterested at times."
Meanwhile, the Jazz might not be done wheeling and dealing. ESPN's Chad Ford reported, "While the Jazz don't want to dismantle the entire team, they are listening for offers for everyone, according to a Jazz source. That should be music to the ears of a number of teams. Who are they after? In particular, Paul Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko are coveted."
As for former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, he told AOL Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson that the Williams trade will have no effect on his future plans. "Just in case anybody in Utah is getting any wild ideas Jerry Sloan might return as coach now that Deron Williams has been traded, that's not going to happen," Tomasson wrote. '"No,'' Sloan said in a phone interview with FanHouse on Wednesday. "That didn't have anything to do with it. I left on my own terms.'''
Until both teams take the court with their new players, the influence of this blockbuster trade will remain uncertain.