The Atlanta Hawks have won the Dejounte Murray sweepstakes, acquiring the all-star guard from the Spurs on Wednesday in exchange for three first-round picks, a future pick swap, and Danilo Gallinari. The Hawks are aiming to take the next step after barely sneaking into the playoffs, while the move signals a fresh start for the Spurs.
What are the Hawks Getting in Dejounte Murray?
The Spurs have a tendency to make something out of nothing, and they did just that with Murray. San Antonio took Murray with the 29th overall pick in 2016, and he was out of the rotation for much of his rookie year. Murray suffered a torn ACL before his third season, halting his progress, but he returned as a starter in 2019 and has only improved ever since.
Murray averaged 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game this past season, posting a league-best 2 steals/game and recording 13 triple-doubles. He gives the Hawks a playmaking backcourt mate for Trae Young, who’s already made it clear he’s excited about the deal.
Murray isn’t much of a three-point shooter, shooting 33% from behind the arc in his career, but he doesn’t have to try to be that kind of player in Atlanta. As far and away the best player on a bad Spurs team, Murray attempted a career-high 4.3 threes per game last season. Atlanta is already stocked with shooters, which will allow Murray to be a playmaker for the offense and get the ball to Young. Murray should also be a much-needed boost on the defensive end for the Hawks.
Murray is under contract for the next two seasons at about $17M/year. The Hawks will have some decisions to make before then, with De’Andre Hunter’s deal ending next summer and Onyeka Okongwu also a free-agent in 2024, but this isn’t just a one-year rental for a team looking to win now.
What’s Next for the Spurs?
Gregg Popovich gave his blessing for the deal and is reportedly excited to coach a young group of guys next season. He better be. The Spurs weren’t a likely playoff team when they entered last season with both Murray and Derrick White. With that backcourt tandem officially blown up, San Antonio might be competing for the No. 1 overall pick.
Whether Popovich is still coaching or not, the Spurs will have three first-round picks to play with down the line. San Antonio received the Hornets’ 2023 first-rounder and the Hawks’ own 2025 and 2027 first-rounders, in addition to the 2026 pick swap. It would be a surprise if Charlotte’s 2023 pick isn’t somewhere in the middle of the first round, so these might not be extremely valuable picks, but it’s a second shot at finding talent for a front office that has struck gold outside the lottery before.
If the core remains as is, expect the Spurs to rely on their frontcourt of Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl this coming season. In the immediate future, Johnson is set to become the Spurs’ focal point offensively. While the frontcourt may be mostly untouched, the full rebuild could allow a Spurs team that’s typically stingy with rookies to give Jeremy Sochan extended minutes off the bench.
The backcourt has a chance to be the NBA’s worst. The Spurs will either have to add a stopgap point guard or give heavy minutes to Tre Jones and rookie Blake Wesley. It looks like San Antonio will also see a lot of Lonnie Walker IV with White out of the picture. Josh Richardson, who soaked up most of White’s minutes last season, is on the books for $12M and might not be worth keeping around for a rebuilding team.
The Spurs picked up three picks in today’s deal, but the focus will be entirely on their own first-rounder next year. Will they have the chance to draft Victor Wembanyama? What a way that would be for Gregg Popovich to wrap up his coaching career.