EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey Nets on Wednesday officially announced the three-team trade involving Los Angeles and Houston that brings guard Sasha Vujacic from the Lakers, sends Joe Smith to Los Angeles, and Terrence Williams to the Rockets, and, perhaps more important, gives New Jersey two first-round draft picks.
“We’re excited to get a player like Sasha who can come in and help us,” Nets general manager Billy King said. “He’s scrappy on defense and a good shooter on offense. He has experience with being on a champion. It’s also an opportunity for us to get better with future draft picks.”
The Nets acquired first-round picks from the Lakers in 2011, and the Rockets in 2012. New Jersey now owns five first rounders in the next two years, including two of their own, the Lakers’ (2011), Golden State’s (2011) and Houston’s (2012). New Jersey, to seal it, sent two second-round picks to the Lakers.
King said that he expects Vujacic, 26, who was not playing much with the Lakers, to come in and contribute right away, especially since starting shooting guard Anthony Morrow suffered a hamstring injury Tuesday vs. Philadelphia and will be sidelined 2-to-3 weeks.
“It was a combination of a lot of things,” King said. “It got to the point where it wasn’t going to work here for Terrence. He’s getting a clean slate in Houston, a new start. He was not going to be a good fit for the future here. The opportunities are better for him in Houston.”
Vujacic, in his seventh year, averaged 4.8 points during his career in Los Angeles. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard set the Lakers’ single-season record for three-point accuracy in 2008, shooting at a .437 clip. He appeared in just 11 games this season, averaging 1.8 points.
The 6-6 Williams, the Nets‘ top draft pick and 11th overall in 2009, averaged 8.2 points, four rebounds and nearly three assists in 88 games. He recently was sent down to the Springfield Armor of the NBA D-League for his habitual tardiness. Williams averaged 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 10 games with the Nets this season.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Johnson said. “It gives Terrence a chance to move on and continue his career with another team. I wish him well. We’re still rebuilding and retooling and we’re heading in the right direction. This is just another step in that retooling process. We needed to change something and we also needed the picks.”
The draft picks increase the Nets‘ chance of making a bigger trade, perhaps now having the pieces for a potential deal with Denver to acquire Carmelo Anthony.
“We don’t want to be mediocre or below average,” said Johnson, whose team is now 6-19 after losing for the eighth straight time Tuesday. “We’re aiming to be a championship team. We have a big plan. The light is dim, but there is a light.”
Johnson will insert Vujacic into his regular rotation, quite possibly as early as Thursday when the Nets face the Los Angeles Clippers in Newark. Vujacic was set to arrive in New Jersey Wednesday afternoon for a physical. He boarded a flight from Indianapolis, where the Lakers are playing the Pacers tonight.
“We know he can shoot the ball,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to add someone with the capability to make a shot. We’re excited to have him. We also acquired valuable picks, which gives us some flexibility. We need Sasha to play right away, because we need help at that position. I know he can come here and make shots.”
Jordan Farmar, who played with Vujacic in Los Angeles, believes he can help.
“I describe him like a soccer player,” said Farmar, who will now be paired in the starting lineup with Devin Harris due to Morrow’s injury. “He has antics to get the crowd going. He also can shoot the ball well. He’s feisty and competitive. He was sitting there and I know he’s anxious to play. So, I’m happy for him. I’m looking forward to having him here. He’s not going to come here and be a savior, but he brings experience and has a lot of big-game experience.”
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