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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Trade aids Deron Williams, Devin Harris

By John Cregan
Special to

I'm starting to dig this Mikhail Prokhorov.

As I stated in the Carmelo Anthony trade analysis, we'd be tracking the aftershocks of the deal right up to the trade deadline. But I must admit, I wasn't quite expecting this.

In a marvelous mixture of post-Jerry Sloan-meets-James Dolan karma, the Nets turned around and just landed arguably a better player. In fantasy terms, Deron Williams is a better player. If I was offered this deal in a keeper league, I'd exacerbate my carpal tunnel jamming on "Accept." As we all know, you always go for the dominant assists man over the dominant scorer.

And we also can stop feeling sorry for the Nets (at least I was); they just made the Knicks give their eye teeth to acquire Anthony, then went out and got themselves a superstar for less than they offered the Nuggets. It's a gutsy gambit, as there are no guarantees Deron Williams will re-up with the Nets once his current deal expires.

But let's get back to the details of what are actually two separate deals. The Golden State Warriors are involved in the second trade, which allowed the Nets to rid themselves of Troy Murphy and his expiring contract.

The deals involve the following players: The Nets get Deron Williams, Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright, the Jazz get Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, and the Warriors get Troy Murphy. I'm assuming Golden State buys out Murphy (who could be a fantasy factor depending on where he lands), so this deal really affects only the Nets and Jazz for fantasy purposes.

New Jersey Nets

Your prospective new, more Brooklyn-friendly Nets lineup:

PG: Deron Williams
SG: Anthony Morrow/Sasha Vujacic
SF: Travis Outlaw
PF: Kris Humphries
C: Brook Lopez

Also on the radar: PF Brandan Wright

Let's start with the obvious; Deron Williams is going to have to step right in and carry this team. He doesn't have the finishers he had in Utah, so his assists might dip, but his scoring should rise.

However, there's another factor at stake here. Williams has lately exhibited a high degree of what I call "poutability." He's reportedly stunned at the trade to New Jersey, and may go through a bit of a slump while he adjusts to playing for a doormat (but a very wealthy doormat). When he rebounds from the shock, he should put up 22-24 points a game with 8-9 assists for the rest of the season.

Kris Humphries
I think fans shouldn't be booing New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries.

I've been bullish on Kris Humphries all season (having just named him to my ADP All-Star squad). For his owners, this trade represents a best-case scenario. Without Favors pushing for minutes, Humphries should be able to rebound from his current mini-slump and return to near-double-double levels. Vujacic and Morrow are both boom-or-bust streak shooters who should be ridden only for a few games at a time (same goes for Outlaw).

Look, I'm done deriding Lopez's lack of rebounding zeal for this season. Let's just hope the shakeup results in a little more of what NBA old-timers used to refer to as "caring." But look at it like a logic problem. Rebounding is a desire-based stat. Lopez is happier when he's scoring. Deron Williams will give him more opportunities to score. Ergo, Lopez's rebounds should nudge up a little.

The wild card here could be Brandan Wright. Lest we forget, Wright is in possession of a good deal of talent; trades and injuries have kept him off the fantasy radar, but he's arriving in a situation in New Jersey ripe for increased playing time. I could see him pushing Humphries for minutes in the dog days of the campaign.

Utah Jazz

And your now seemingly rebuilding (or is it reloading?) Utah Jazz:

PG: Devin Harris
SG: Raja Bell
SF: Andrei Kirilenko
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Al Jefferson

Also on radar: PF Derrick Favors, PG Earl Watson, SF/SG Gordon Hayward, SF C.J. Miles

If you're holding on to Favors in a non-keeper league, you should probably start thinking about dumping him. It's hard to see Favors cracking more than 15-20 minutes per game behind Paul Millsap. That number could rise the longer Mehmet Okur stays on the shelf, but Favors is probably done for the season in fantasy (save for deeper leagues).

I foresee a boost for Harris. The season-long trade rumors admittedly got him down, and dragged down his fantasy value as a result. But there was once a time when Harris was one of the more exciting point guards in fantasy, especially in a score-first role.

Harris is suddenly joining a lineup in dire need of about 21.3 points and 9.7 assists per game. The Devin Harris of two seasons ago would be capable of at least approaching those numbers. He won't probably average more than 7-8 assists per game (he's averaging 8.7 in his past 10 games), but Harris could crack 20-point mark with regularity after he adjusts. Remember that the Jazz have a couple of ace finishers in Jefferson and Millsap.

This deal could have a long-term fantasy impact up and down the Jazz. Currently hanging onto the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference by a half game over the Grizzlies, the Jazz will probably tumble in the standings without Williams at the helm. And they may not be done dealing. Looking down the road beyond 2010-11, the Jazz are now overloaded in the frontcourt with Millsap and Favors. They also have a glut at small forward with Kirilenko, Miles and Hayward.

At the very least, if the Jazz fall out of playoff contention, you could see Hayward get more minutes, most likely at shooting guard, where the Jazz have nothing to gain long term by sticking with the banged-up Bell. Hayward logged 33 minutes in the final game before the All-Star break, which could be a preview of the final third of the season.

John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for