This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The thrust behind the Jazz's trading of Deron Williams on Wednesday, the biggest swap in the club's last three decades, was this: It had to happen.
Williams knew it.
The Jazz knew it.
The fans knew it.
Other teams around the NBA were on the brink of knowing it, too.
No matter what Williams says or does not say publicly, he wanted out. He was gone today, gone tomorrow, or gone when his free agency came up in a couple years. That being the case, gone today was preferred.
It was better, all around.
Greg Miller said Wednesday he had a "feeling" the Jazz would be unable to re-sign Williams. Kevin O'Connor said the Jazz didn't want to take the risk, and be left with nothing.
The only way the point guard would have wanted to stay in Utah when his deal ended was if the Jazz were winning or threatening to win titles. After Williams got his money, that was second on his list of priorities. The ultra-competitive man has a huge problem with getting beat. He can't handle it. Losing hurts him in a way most NBA players don't feel. And that's good.
The bad is that Williams gave up on doing the heavy lifting himself, an unavoidable call that came via both his personal pain and his star status, and began pointing fingers in every direction. That mistake blew a hole in the bottom of the Jazz's boat, evidenced by his attitude, his play, and his team's slipping under the waves and into the deep over the past two months.
A title wasn't coming When will it ever come? and Williams, at least in part, blamed Jerry Sloan, but, even worse, he bailed out. When Sloan perceived that management backed the player instead of the coach, he called the bluff and walked.
That essentially forced Wednesday's trade.
Jazz fans found themselves in the disagreeable position of having to cheer for a player who helped usher out the face of the franchise. A player who had as much inner conflict as outer. A player who Jazz management, in that moment, didn't fully know it couldn't abide, or satisfy. The rudiments of the D-Will deal, then, were made bare.
He was a goner. It was a matter of when, as much as who, or what, the Jazz would get in return.
What they got was Devin Harris, a veteran point guard, and Derrick Favors, a raw rookie power forward, a couple of first-round draft picks and $3 million.
What they really swapped was a problem for a project.
And the Jazz put their present and their future on the latter.
After what had happened here, they had no choice.
Waiting would have only made matters worse.
It was as though the Jazz were onboard a blistering motorcycle that had gone into a speed weave. Slowing down would have spun them out of control. Speeding up and breaking out of the weave before slowing down was their only viable course. That's what they did.
They had to.
"No need to make a villain out of this," Miller said. No need, because the Jazz also were to blame for some of the commotion. Now, they're attempting to make the best of it.
Trashing Williams isn't the sole intention here, although how he handles the losing in New Jersey, for as long as it lasts, will be compelling theater. For most of his time with the Jazz, he played hard, he competed hard, and he cared a lot. In many ways, he grew up in Utah.
But not enough to properly handle the demise of the past two months.
It's ironic that an All-Star point guard who averaged nearly 10 assists per game through the better part of six seasons here couldn't pass his biggest test of all. He couldn't stare down adversity and, then, by way of his own tremendous gifts, ascend over it.
More than any other reason, that's why he chased a legend out a door, and, 13 days later, followed him through it.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 104.7 FM/1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at email@example.com.