Rockets, Nets, Lakers agree on trade
Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic(notes) and a 2012 first-round pick from Houston will go to New Jersey. Nets forward Joe Smith(notes) will join the Lakers, who also will send their 2011 first-round pick to New Jersey. In an effort to create luxury-tax savings by trading Vujacic’s $5.5 million salary for Smith’s $1.35 million, the Lakers were willing to include their first-round pick.
The Nets now own five first-round draft picks in the next two years, including two of their own, the Lakers’ (2011), Golden State’s (2011) and Houston’s (2012).
Williams, the No. 11 pick in the 2009 draft, recently returned to the Nets after being demoted to the Development League for his frequent tardiness to New Jersey’s games and practices. He is averaging 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists this season.
For the Nets, this was a deal to strengthen their hand with the Denver Nuggets on a play for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. The Nets have already offered the Nuggets their most attractive package so far – including rookie Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Troy Murphy and two first-round picks. Now, the Nets have a deeper war chest to bid on Anthony.
So far, Anthony prefers a trade to the New York Knicks, where he’d agree to sign a contract extension. Yet, New York doesn’t have a package of assets that appeals to Denver’s front office as much as the one the Nets have been able to offer.
While Anthony hasn’t shown a great willingness to play for the Nets, he hasn’t ruled it out. The Nets believe if they can get a trade agreement in place with Denver, they could call upon owner Mikhail Prokhorov and coach Avery Johnson to sell Anthony on a compromise of committing to an extension with the Brooklyn-bound Nets.
Vujacic, 26, has averaged less than five minutes in 11 games this season. His role with the Lakers has gradually decreased since he signed his three-year contract prior to the 2008-09 season.
Smith, 35, has appeared in just four games for the Nets this season.
The deal can’t be finalized until Wednesday, the first day Smith and other free agents who signed in the summer can be traded.