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Nets Adding Assets, & Get a Guard, to Shoot

December 15th, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.Less than 1 ½ years after drafting swingman Terrence Williams with the No. 11 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Nets have sent the lottery selection to Houston as part of a three-team deal that also sends veteran forward Joe Smith and two second-round picks to the Lakers. The return is guard Sasha Vujacic and two first-round picks: a 2011 Laker selection (protected 1-18) along with a 2012 Houston choice (lottery protected).

The Nets, committed to stockpiling assets with an eye on the long-term rebuilding plan, now hold five first-round draft picks in 2011 and 2012, along with three second-rounders. The 6-foot-7 Vujacic provides an outside shooter capable of harassing defense who should immediately slide into the backcourt rotation.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Nets coach Avery Johnson. “This will give Terrence a chance to move on and continue his career with another team, a team that’s a little more established than we are right now. We wish him well.

“We’re rebuilding here. We’re retooling. We’re trying to get our team headed in the right direction. We feel we have some valuable assets heading back to us. This is another day where you can see our franchise shifting and going in another direction.”

Williams showed flashes of tremendous talent and playmaking ability while averaging 8.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 22.4 minutes during 88 career games with the Nets. But he shot only .313 from three-point range and .401 overall, also committing 1.7 turnovers per game.

“I think it was a situation where it wasn’t going to work here for Terrence,” King said. “I told Terrence, ‘You’ve got a new opportunity, a clean slate. You’re young in your career – take advantage of this opportunity.’ I’m just looking at it basketball wise, and I didn’t think it was going to be a good fit for us for the future. But that’s not saying he won’t be a good player in this league. I felt the opportunity here was better for us in what we were doing.”

The trade leaves the Nets with an open roster spot, which King said they don’t feel obligated to fill, though they’ll consider options via trade or signing. Vujacic’s expiring contract combines with the space and the picks to offer the Nets flexibility to explore compounding possibilities.

But as King continues to work the phones, Vujacic arrives in New Jersey. He’ll take a physical this evening, and could play as early as tomorrow night at Prudential Center against the Wizards. Jordan Farmar, who spent his first four years with the Lakers, played with Vujacic the whole time, and believes he’ll boost the team’s energy level.

“He plays with a lot of energy,” Farmar said. “I describe him as a soccer player, he’s going to be annoying, he’s going to be all up in everybody, he’s going to have antics, he’s going to get the crowd involved. And then on the other end, he’s going to stretch the floor. He can shoot the ball lights out – he set a franchise record, in my second year in the league, when we lost to Boston in the finals, in three-point percentage for the Lakers. He can shoot the ball extremely well and he’s going to be feisty and competitive.”

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