NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Nets traded Terrence Williams to the Houston Rockets in a three-way deal that will land them Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and a pair of first-round draft picks, the Nets announced on Wednesday.
The Lakers will receive Nets veteran power forward Joe Smith, two second-round picks from New Jersey and the draft rights to Sergei Lishchuk from the Rockets.
The Nets get the Lakers’ 2011 first-round pick – which is protected from No. 1 to No. 18 – and Houston’s 2012 lottery-protected first-rounder.
“This trade benefits our team in both the short and long term,” Nets general manager Billy King said in a statement. “Sasha is a veteran NBA player who will add depth to our backcourt rotation, while the addition of the two future No. 1 picks adds to our assets as we look to rebuild into a championship contender.”
To make roster room for Williams’ arrival, Houston struck a deal with Sacramento that will send Jermaine Taylor and cash considerations to the Kings for a conditional second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
“Welcome welcome, to all my jersey fans an people it’s been real I love y’all an thanks, to HOUSTON what uppppp ‘go Rockets’ lol,” Williams tweeted Tuesday night.
The acquisition of the two first-round picks now gives the Nets a total of five first-rounders over the next two seasons. Aside from their own 2011 and 2012 firsts, they also have the Golden State Warriors’ lottery-protected 2011 first-round pick, which was acquired in the Marcus Williams trade back in 2008.
“I just found out [about the trade] when I got to the arena tonight,” Smith said. “I found out right before the game.
“I had a similar situation when I left Oklahoma City and went back to Cleveland for the second time. The toughest thing about it is leaving the guys I’ve been with for the short part of the season. Just seeing them grow and develop and do the right thing on the court to get wins, that’s always a tough situation.”
The deal cannot be finalized until Dec. 15, according to NBA rules that prohibit offseason signees from being traded – and Smith fits that bill.
King said the deal took a while to come together.
“We had one part about a week and a half ago and one part two days ago,” he said.
Williams was announced as inactive by Nets head coach Avery Johnson before Tuesday night’s game, but Johnson would not divulge why. When asked if it was because of bad behavior, which has caused Johnson to place Williams on the inactive list earlier this season, he responded, “no.”
Williams, a first-round pick in 2009, has been fined this season for showing up late to practices and he was sent home from another game for failing to follow team policy. He was shipped to the Nets’ D-League affiliate in Springfield, Mass., for a couple of games before being brought back to the team last week.
“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.”
On Wednesday, Johnson commented on the deal.
“We just think it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. “This will give Terrence a chance to move on and continue his career with another team. The Rockets are a little more established than what we are right now, so we wish him well. Like I’ve been telling you guys all along, we’re rebuilding here. We are retooling. We are trying to get our team headed in the right direction. We feel we have some valuable assets coming back to us and this is another day when you can really see our franchise shifting and going in another direction.
“We’re gonna need Sasha to play immediately. We need help at the combo guard spot. We’re gonna want him to play on the ball and off the ball and knock down some shots.”
Nets points guard Jordan Farmar welcomed Vujacic, his former Lakers teammate.
“He’s not gonna be the savior or answer to everything, but I think he’ll definitely help in terms of energy level. He plays with a lot of energy. He can shoot the ball. He’s gonna be feisty and competitive.
“He’s anxious to get in and get some basketball action. I’m looking forward to having him as an addition.”
Vujacic was once a valuable reserve for the Lakers whose playing time has been slashed this season.
“It’s terrible. I’m 26 years old. I played a few years [consistently] and the last couple years, playing on and off, it was just killing me,” he said before knowing the trade was finalized.
Vujacic added: “We’ll see, if it happens then I definitely want to double what I did in LA.”
King downplayed reports of Vujacic clashing with Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
“No, I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I don’t think Jordan was popular with his coach. Situations happen. Coaches and players don’t always get along. I’ve been in this business a long time and guys go to different rosters and they’re great. You can’t read into any situation.”
Jackson was asked Tuesday if he thought Smith could help his team.
“Well, John Doe could, the way we’re playing,” Jackson said. “We’re hoping that John Doe would be a big guy.”
King might not be done dealing.
“The phones have been ringing more,” he said. “I think once you do a deal people get anxious and want to start doing more deals. We just keep plugging away.”
King said that he didn’t go into the deal expecting to stockpile picks, but he said “it doesn’t hurt.”
“You always look to acquire assets until you become the Lakers or the Spurs where you’re competing for the championship,” he said.