- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The New Jersey Nets finally landed a big-name All-Star in a blockbuster trade that gives them point guard Deron Williams and sends rookie Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris to the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz also will receive the Nets‘ first-round pick in 2011, which could be a lottery pick, along with cash and Golden State’s 2012 first-round draft pick.

“I feel Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA,” Nets general manager Billy King said in announcing the deal Wednesday. “I spoke with Deron and he’s excited about it. He understands where we are and where we want to go. In this league, you win with point guards.”

The Nets hope Williams will sign a contract extension, which they can offer this summer. If so, he would become the face of their franchise when they move to Brooklyn in 2012.

“Everything happens for a reason. I take everything in stride,” Williams told the Jazz team broadcasters from his hotel room in Dallas. “I had a great five-and-a-half years in Salt Lake. The fans have always been great for me. I’m going to miss them.”

The 6-foot-3 Williams was selected third overall in 2005 out of Illinois, and he’s averaged 17.3 points, 9.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds for the Jazz. Williams has been even better in 44 postseason games, with averages of 21.1 points, 9.6 asissts and 1.2 steals.

The deal came two days after the Nets failed to land Carmelo Anthony, who was acquired by the New York Knicks as part of a blockbuster deal with the Denver Nuggets.

Jazz CEO Greg Miller said he made the move because of a “gut feeling” that he wouldn’t be able to sign Williams to a long-term deal after next season.

“If you look at what happened with Phoenix, Toronto and Cleveland … they all lost their marquee player and had very little if anything to show for it,” Miller said. “This trade allows us to be competitive now and beyond the 2012 season.”

Asked how he would be able to market a team in Salt Lake City without a star, Miller said with “classic Jazz basketball.”

“It’s lunchpail, work boots,” he said. “And who knows? We may have a star player before any of us realizes it.”

Harris, a former All-Star point guard, and Favors, the No. 3 pick in the draft, were part of the package the Nets had been offering the Nuggets for Anthony.

“Everybody was talking about getting longer and athletic and when are you going to get one of these guys,” said Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, who hinted that he may not be done dealing before Thursday’s trade deadline. “We got one now (in Favors) and we’ll see how he progresses. He’s not a finished product but at least it’s somebody we can build on.”

Both GMs said they discussed a deal several weeks ago, but it only came to fruition after the Nets lost out on Anthony. O’Connor acknowledged cash was part of the deal and the maximum that can change hands is $3 million.

The Jazz were a perennial contender with Williams, but his reputation took a hit when Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan retired one day after clashing with him during a game.

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