The Atlanta Hawks acquired Dejounte Murray last season in hopes of teaming him up with Trae Young and forming one of the NBA’s more potent tandems.
On paper, it made sense.
Young is a strong playmaker who can be a spotty shooter and a terrible defender.
Murray is a strong defensive presence who could cover for Young on that side of the ball, while also serving as a more consistent offensive player.
Unfortunately, the pair didn’t do much of note together.
The Hawks were a middling squad for most of the year, culminating in Nate McMillan getting the boot. He was replaced by Quin Snyder, but it’s unclear how much that will matter given the current roster composition.
As a result, according Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, it really wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Atlanta explore its options in regards to moving Murray.
“Murray is due $18.2 million this season but may not be open to an extension limited to a $25.4 million starting salary,” he wrote.
“Unless Atlanta can shed significant salary elsewhere, they may not be able to afford Murray at his current price, let alone on a new deal in his likely asking range above $30 million.”
Last year Murray averaged nearly 21 points on 46.4 percent shooting from the field and 34.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It was the second-best scoring mark of his career and his most efficient shooting percentage ever.
In addition, he chipped in 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per outing.
In the right circumstances, baby mama drama notwithstanding, he could be a huge star on and off the court.
If Atlanta does opt to move Murray, three teams can be considered frontrunners for his services.
The first is the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard has made it clear that he wants another star. The front office has Anfernee Simons and the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to dangle in a potential trade.
Lillard is a better version of what Young thinks he is, so him and Murray together could prove to be the potent combination that Young and Murray never were.
It’s worth remembering, also, that Murray dropped 39 points on Portland in Snyder’s first game as head coach. The Blazers know better than anyone how good he is.
Finally, if Lillard does decide he wants to leave, Murray is a nice piece the franchise can build around going forward no mater what. He is still only 26 years old.
If not the Blazers, the Houston Rockets are also a team to watch. As noted by Kelly Iko of The Athletic, this is a move that could make sense for all parties involved.
It would center around trading Kevin Porter Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, K.J. Martin and the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to Atlanta in return for Murray and John Collins.
“Murray is the prize here, adding a tenacious two-way guard who immediately raises the floor and ceiling of a young team,” Iko wrote.
“In Collins, the Rockets get their hands on a player Atlanta clearly wants to move, someone they’ve been interested in and who can be a quality rim protector and lob threat.”
With new head coach Ime Udoka, Houston finally has the leadership necessary rise up in the Western Conference rankings. Now it just needs the talent to do so, too.
Finally, don’t sleep on the Los Angeles Lakers. Although L.A. is one of four teams linked to a trade for Young, Murray is the better all-around player.
The Lakers explored a deal for Murray back when he was with the San Antonio Spurs, and his defensive mindset would fit perfectly with the way Anthony Davis patrols the rim.
Impressive stuff from the Golden Knights. https://t.co/EVPhCT3kH4
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 11, 2023
Offensively he isn’t the smoothest fit on a Lakers team that has struggled to score in the past, but his age makes him a potentially perfect Davis running mate for a post-LeBron James future.
One way or another, the Hawks will need to make some tough decisions regarding their future. And if financial constraints lead to them blowing the roster up, there will be no shortage of suitors for Murray.
Where will Murray ultimately be playing come the beginning of the 2023-24 NBA season? Time will tell.