As Donovan Mitchell trade rumors run rampant, many are remembering the Utah Jazz’s trade 11 years ago of another All-Star guard, Deron Williams, to the then-New Jersey Nets.
Last week, ESPN ranked 15 of the biggest NBA trades over the past 20 years (their story was framed around the trade talk surrounding a current Brooklyn Net, superstar Kevin Durant). The Williams-Jazz trade — which brought Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, a draft pick that became Enes Kanter and a draft pick that became Gorgui Dieng to Utah — came in at No. 4.
“Almost immediately after the Nets missed out on (Carmelo) Anthony, they struck a deal with Utah to get disgruntled star point guard Deron Williams, who became the face of the team’s eventual move across the Hudson River to Brooklyn a year and a half later,” ESPN wrote. “Things soured quickly, however, and he was bought out of the last couple years of his deal in 2015.
“Utah, meanwhile, got the No. 3 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, Derrick Favors, plus it knew New Jersey’s pick was destined to be a high selection — and it was, resulting in the No. 3 overall pick in 2011, which became Enes Kanter. After this move, the Jazz began to retool their roster around young forward Gordon Hayward, who in 2016-17 helped lead Utah’s current streak of six straight playoff appearances — the longest active streak in the Western Conference.”
The 2019 trade that sent Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft (became De’Andre Hunter), a 2022 first-round pick (became Dyson Daniels), a pick swap in the 2023 draft and the Lakers’ 2024 first-round pick with the right to defer it to 2025 topped ESPN’s list.
ESPN wrote two main takeaways from its examination of these deals: First, “Leverage is huge — and can lead to massive returns,” and “Picks matter more now than ever before.”
To the second point, ESPN wrote, “The structure of these deals has changed significantly. In the mid-2000s, when Tracy McGrady and Shaquille O’Neal were traded, the deals were built around players — Steve Francis in the McGrady deal, and Lamar Odom in the O’Neal trade.
“Over time, however — and especially over the past decade — the returns became much more pick-heavy, as teams now seek more future draft assets over present-day talent.”