- Associated Press - Thursday, February 24, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The second blockbuster NBA trade in two days sent Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets, shifting another star from the Western Conference to the East and to a bigger market.

Now, while the Nets hope they can keep their new All-Star long-term and turn him into a face-of-the-franchise player the way Jason Kidd was years ago, small-market teams are left to wonder what the future holds for them.

Is there something the NBA should do to protect teams from losing their stars?

“I think this is a relatively recent phenomenon, but one that I believe is being watched very closely,” Jazz CEO Greg Miller said after trading away his All-Star point guard in exchange for rookie Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and cash.

“I can only speak from the Jazz ownership perspective in saying that I’m not interested in seeing a congregation of star players on a handful of teams throughout the league. I don’t think it does the teams any good. It doesn’t do the fans any good. It doesn’t do the sponsors any good.

“I would like to see as much parity as there can be in the league. Beyond that, it’s all just speculation.”

The trend started in the summer of 2007 when the Boston Celtics made a blockbuster 7-for-1 trade with Minnesota that gave them 10-time All-Star Kevin Garnett. The Celtics with the Big Three of Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce went on to win the NBA title in 2008.

Last offseason, the Jazz lost power forward Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls, Phoenix star Amare Stoudamire signed with the New York Knicks, and league MVP LeBron James ditched Cleveland for Miami’s beaches and a star-studded Heat lineup that featured Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

On Tuesday, the Knicks finalized a deal with the Denver Nuggets that sent All-Star Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Eastern Conference.

It all left King James boasting that his prediction of a shift of power to the East was coming true.

The Jazz chose to combat it the only way they could _ by being proactive with the Williams trade and getting as much as they could now even if it created more turmoil just 13 days after Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan abruptly retire after clashing with Williams.

Utah’s front office said it had no definite indication from Williams that he wouldn’t re-sign after 2012, but it also had no indication he would.

“We had an opportunity to replace ambiguity with a high degree of certainty,” Miller said.

In weighing the decision, Miller tried to put himself in Williams‘ shoes, as a player trying to earn as much money as he could in a short window of opportunity.

Deron probably felt like he could attain those objectives in bigger markets,” Miller said. “If that’s the way he felt, I wouldn’t want to hold him here against his will or have him be unhappy. If our franchise couldn’t offer Deron things he needed, then it was best he go somewhere he can get those things.”

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