The New Jersey Nets struck out on Dwight Howard at the NBA trade deadline Thursday, and so they did the logical thing and traded their best non-Deron Williams asset in a wild attempt to make the playoffs despite entering the day with a 15-29 record.
The Nets sent their 2012 first-round draft pick and some expiring contracts to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gerald Wallace. New Jersey did protect the pick ... through the top three. So if it lands No. 4 or higher, it will go to Portland.
Why oh why?
From the great NetsDaily (emphasis is mine):
"This trade was really done to get us a small forward," King said, "a former All-Star, somebody to give us some great defense, versatility, someone to play hard ..." As for protecting the pick only #1 through #3, King said following conversations with their scouts, the team did not see any immediate-impact players beyond their projected top three in next year's draft.
Well, uh, the Nets do know that crazy stuff happens and one of their three impact players could have been available at, say, No. 6 or 7, right? (The Nets currently have the league's sixth worst record, making the sixth or seventh pick most likely, before accounting for expected improvement with Wallace.)
Here's where it gets even worse. From ESPN's Chad Ford:
NJ source on why they traded their pick to POR Top 3 protected: Only 3 players they loved: Anthony Davis, MKG and Thomas Robinson.
Anthony Davis will be the No. 1 pick. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, if he leaves Kentucky, could go as high as No. 2. But Thomas Robinson? DraftExpress does have him slotted at No. 3 currently ... but he seems like a good bet to fall into that 6-7 range eventually, once everyone falls back in love with Andre Drummond and Perry Jones, who had awful Thursdays in the Tournament. If you figure N.J.'s decent chance of vaulting into the top three where Davis or MKG would be in play plus the decent chance that Robinson would have fallen to them, you come away with a fairly reasonable probability that the Nets would have landed one of their three impact players.
I understand that this deal was about getting talent now to keep Deron Williams happy. But rationalizing draft pick trades by pooh-poohing the depth of the draft is silly. Like the Nets are too good to need help from someone like Harrison Barnes or Terrence Jones!