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On Sunday evening, the Brooklyn Nets will play host to the Portland Trailblazers. For Deron Williams, a match up with Damian Lillard awaits.

Gerald Wallace

The Nets have a fairly balanced team with two decent reserve point guards in C.J. Watson and Tyshawn Taylor.

But, in theory, they could have had Damian Lillard, here's why...

From Benjamin Hoffman of NYT's Off The Dribble Blog...

Gerald Wallace is a tenacious defender, a strong rebounder for his size and a known veteran quantity at forward. When the Nets acquired Wallace at the trading deadline last season, he was seen as a player capable of doing the dirty work that Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries were not known for. They will get a good look at the price they paid for his services, however, when the Portland Trail Blazers visit Brooklyn on Sunday.

For Wallace, Portland received Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a conditional first-round draft pick, which was protected from being in the top three. When the Nets ended up with the sixth pick, it was sent to the Trail Blazers, who used it to draft Damian Lillard, 22, a point guard from Weber State.

Lillard was considered among the more polished prospects in the draft, but one without a high ceiling for improvement. Given his averages of 20.2 points and 6 assists a game through Friday, both of which easily led all rookies, it would be hard for Portland to ask for more.

This is a very astute observation but it's not something that Nets fans should lose any sleep over. Without the Gerald Wallace trade (and subsequent re-signing), there's zero chance that Deron Williams re-signs with the Nets.

And without Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace, it's doubtful that the Nets would have traded for Joe Johnson or otherwise assembled the cast they have. Brook Lopez probably would have been re-signed, so if the Nets did manage to select Lillard with that sixth overall pick (big if), it could have had a young core to build around that featured Lillard, MarShon Brooks, and Brook Lopez.

Those are three quality young pieces, and in Lillard, you may be looking at a future all-star, but the franchise didn't want years to move to Brooklyn to again begin another rebuilding project. It would have been very tough to sell luxury suites and season ticket packages, as well and let's not fool ourselves into thinking that dollars and sense don't matter when you've just spent $1 billion building a new arena.

Tags: Josh Newman SNYNets, Brooklyn Nets SNY Blog, Gerald Wallace Traded to Nets, Moke Hamilton SNYNets, Damian Lillard Portland Trailblazers, blog , Moke Hamilton
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