GM King optimistic about new-look Nets

The New Jersey Nets on Wednesday officially announced the

three-team trade involving Los Angeles and Houston that brings

guard Sasha Vujacic from the Lakers, sends Joe Smith to Los

Angeles, and Terrence Williams to the Rockets, and, perhaps more

important, gives New Jersey two first-round draft picks.

”We’re excited to get a player like Sasha who can come in and

help us,” Nets general manager Billy King said. ”He’s scrappy on

defense and a good shooter on offense. He has experience with being

on a champion. It’s also an opportunity for us to get better with

future draft picks.”

The Nets acquired first-round picks from the Lakers in 2011, and

the Rockets in 2012. New Jersey now owns five first rounders in the

next two years, including two of their own, the Lakers’ (2011),

Golden State’s (2011) and Houston’s (2012). New Jersey, to seal it,

sent two second-round picks to the Lakers.

King said that he expects Vujacic, 26, who was not playing much

with the Lakers, to come in and contribute right away, especially

since starting shooting guard Anthony Morrow suffered a hamstring

injury Tuesday vs. Philadelphia and will be sidelined 2-to-3

weeks.

”He has to come in and learn the offense, but we’re going to

get him in and on the floor,” King said of Vujacic, ”because we

need a player right now.”

King confirmed the obvious on Williams, saying the Nets had

grown tired of his antics, especially his continual lateness.

”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.”

Vujacic, in his seventh year, averaged 4.8 points during his

career in Los Angeles. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard set the Lakers’

single-season record for three-point accuracy in 2008, shooting at

a .437 clip. He appeared in just 11 games this season, averaging

1.8 points.

The 6-6 Williams, the Nets’ top draft pick and 11th overall in

2009, averaged 8.2 points, four rebounds and nearly three assists

in 88 games. He recently was sent down to the Springfield Armor of

the NBA D-League for his habitual tardiness. Williams averaged 6.7

points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 10 games with the Nets this

season.

Nets coach Avery Johnson realized that Williams needed a change

of scenery.

”It’s a win-win for everyone,” Johnson said. ”It gives

Terrence a chance to move on and continue his career with another

team. I wish him well. We’re still rebuilding and retooling and

we’re heading in the right direction. This is just another step in

that retooling process. We needed to change something and we also

needed the picks.”

The draft picks increase the Nets’ chance of making a bigger

trade, perhaps now having the pieces for a potential deal with

Denver to acquire Carmelo Anthony.

”We don’t want to be mediocre or below average,” said Johnson,

whose team is now 6-19 after losing for the eighth straight time

Tuesday. ”We’re aiming to be a championship team. We have a big

plan. The light is dim, but there is a light.”

Johnson will insert Vujacic into his regular rotation, quite

possibly as early as Thursday when the Nets face the Los Angeles

Clippers in Newark. Vujacic was set to arrive in New Jersey

Wednesday afternoon for a physical. He boarded a flight from

Indianapolis, where the Lakers are playing the Pacers tonight.

”We know he can shoot the ball,” Johnson said. ”It’s nice to

add someone with the capability to make a shot. We’re excited to

have him. We also acquired valuable picks, which gives us some

flexibility. We need Sasha to play right away, because we need help

at that position. I know he can come here and make shots.”

Jordan Farmar, who played with Vujacic in Los Angeles, believes

he can help.

”I describe him like a soccer player,” said Farmar, who will

now be paired in the starting lineup with Devin Harris due to

Morrow’s injury. ”He has antics to get the crowd going. He also

can shoot the ball well. He’s feisty and competitive. He was

sitting there and I know he’s anxious to play. So, I’m happy for

him. I’m looking forward to having him here. He’s not going to come

here and be a savior, but he brings experience and has a lot of

big-game experience.”