San Antonio Trades Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks

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During the 2021-22 NBA season, defensive star Dejounte Murray took the next step. The star point guard averaged 21.1 points per game, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.3 rebounds, all career-highs. His efforts earned him a runner-up finish for the 2021-22 Most Improved Player of the Year Award. Murray was also an All-Star selection this season, a well-deserved nomination.

San Antonio Trades Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks

San Antonio Hits the Full Reset Button

Wow. San Antonio last made the playoffs in 2019, losing in seven games to the Denver Nuggets in the first round. The Spurs decided to blow it up that offseason and had been making steady progress towards contention ever since. This trade, however, resets all of that progress.

The Spurs sent their lone All-Star this season to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for 13-year veteran winger Danilo Gallinari, three first-round picks, and an optional pick swap. The first pick is a 2023 selection from the Charlotte Hornets, and the optional pick swap is in 2026. The other two picks are from the Hawks, in 2025 and 2027.

The trade signals the beginning of a full-scale rebuild for San Antonio, which will turn to plenty of developing young players next season. Ahead of a potentially loaded 2023 draft class, San Antonio will likely try to bottom out and use both their and Charlotte’s pick next season. In the meantime, the Spurs can watch their already-established young core develop.

Keldon Johnson showed plenty of promise as a shooter as the forward shot nearly 40 percent from three. 3-and-D player Devin Vassell took another step forward this season, jumping up to 12.3 points per game. Lonnie Walker IV and 19-year-old Joshua Primo are both young guards with high potential ceilings.  Not to mention 26-year-old Jakob Poetl, who is still an excellent player even if he gets traded this offseason.

The Spurs also have new draftees defensive stopper Jeremy Sochan, wing Malaki Branham, and guard Blake Wesley ready to make an impact. The point is that the Spurs are looking toward the future with this trade, which is bright. With pick equity and a talented young group, San Antonio should be ready to make some noise in a few years.

Atlanta Accelerates the Timeline While Getting Younger

No matter which way you look at it, the Atlanta Hawks are the overwhelming winners in this trade. Sure, this cements San Antonio as a force to be reckoned with in a few years, but this makes the Hawks dangerous right now. Atlanta knew the defensive shortcomings of Trae Young when they drafted him, and Young was also going to be a player who needed stoppers around him to succeed.

Why not trade for one of the best young defensive stoppers in the league? Trading for Dejounte Murray was a brilliant move for Atlanta’s front office. For starters, Murray raises the defensive ceiling of Atlanta in a way that few players could. He lead the league in steals per game this season with two and is a former All-Defensive team nominee.

Murray is an established scorer as well and shot 46 percent from the field this season. He ranked fourth-best in the league with 9.2 assists per game this season, behind new teammate Trae Young who was third-best with 9.7. Look for a lot of ball movement in Atlanta next season. Another underrated part of Murray’s game is his rebounding, as the 6’4 guard averaged 8.3 rebounds per game.

Murray’s arrival also probably means that forward John Collins will stay with the Hawks for at least another season. There have been plenty of trade rumors about the talented 24-year-old, but it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be traded now. The most likely scenario is Atlanta tests his fit with Murray before making a decision after next season.

This trade is such a massive win because Atlanta didn’t have to give up any of its young pieces either, actually getting younger. The only player going out is the 33-year-old Gallinari, who was on an undesirable contract anyway. If Atlanta continues to compete with this core through 2027, those picks will only be early-to-mid 20 selections. Again, it’s just the ideal trade for the Hawks, and Atlanta should be a fun team to watch next season.

It’s worth reiterating here that San Antonio didn’t lose this trade, but the Spurs certainly didn’t win it outright either.

Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks – A Sneaky Storyline To Follow

Even though they had nothing to do with this trade, the Chicago Bulls also come out as winners in this trade. Yes, it was rumored that Zach Lavine would happily re-sign with the Bulls ahead of unrestricted free agency, but this almost ensures it. San Antonio was the only team with enough cap space to please Lavine and offer him a chance to compete. As an added wrinkle, Murray is also a longtime friend of Lavine.

Now, Chicago is the only logical place for Lavine. Sure, he could chase after more money, but he doesn’t seem like that type of player. Again, it’s not a guarantee he would’ve signed with San Antonio, but he sure would have flown out for a visit.

Another storyline to come out of this trade is that the East just got even deeper. As if there weren’t already enough teams gunning for the top spot in both conferences, Atlanta now firmly enters that conversation. It might be a bit early for them to go for the top seed this season or even next season. However, the beauty of this trade is Atlanta doesn’t have to yet, and can take the time to develop together.