Why the Atlanta Hawks may regret the Dejounte Murray trade

Dejounte MurrayCredit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Dejounte MurrayCredit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks made one of the splashier moves of the off-season by acquiring Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs. While exciting for Hawks fans, maybe Murray isn’t the best fit with All-Star Trae Young. To be clear, the Atlanta Hawks needed to do something drastic to get better but even if Murray and Young mesh, it could lead to issues down the road for the Hawks.

Murray thrived playing more with the ball in his hands last season—so much so, that he increased his scoring average by more than five points per game and finished fourth in the NBA in assists. In Atlanta, however, he’ll have to play a lot more without the ball and that could be the start of the team’s problems.

Murray and Young may struggle to fit together on the Atlanta Hawks

In theory, having two All-Star guards like Young and Murray in the backcourt makes a lot of sense, especially in today’s NBA. That said, what happens when Murray plays off-ball and how often will he be asked to do so? The answer to the former probably involves Murray attempting to space the floor, something that he hasn’t done effectively in his career thus far.

Teams already know that and will likely play a few feet off of him, which could affect the Hawk’s spacing and Murray’s ability to attack closeouts. The obvious counter is to have Young play more off the ball but he’s struggled to do so, despite being a terrific shooter. He’s also their best offensive player, so taking the ball out of his hands probably isn’t a great strategy.

That leads back to the question of how often Murray will be asked to play without the ball. Considering both players average around 35 minutes a game, the Hawks could split them up, allowing both to be the primary option and play up to their full potential.


As for the rest of the time, they’ll have to figure out how to coexist. Hopefully, they can, but it’s possible the Hawks are a net negative with both on the floor together.

That’s bad, and it obviously won’t help them win more games next season. Even with Murray’s defensive ability, it could be difficult to counteract his poor spacing. If the Hawks do struggle, that could eventually lead to his exit. He won’t hit free agency for a couple of seasons, but he could quickly grow tired of playing second fiddle after previously being the number one option.

We already know that he won’t sign an extension, so he’ll at least test free agency. Moreover, another team could promise he’ll be their primary playmaker, and offer him a significant pay increase, both of which could be hard to say no to. The Hawks can’t compete with such an offer because they can’t promise that he’ll be the number one option and they certainly can’t pay him $200 million. After all, they’ll still be paying Young an average of $43 million a year.

Therefore, it’s possible that he leaves, even after the Hawks traded three first-round picks and a pick swap for him. That’s where the regret part comes in. Without Murray, the Hawks likely won’t be very good in a couple of years, and two of those traded picks aren’t protected and neither is the pick swap.

That means they could give up three lottery picks to the Spurs, plus a pick via Charlotte, all for a couple of years of Murray.

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Maybe the Hawks can figure out how to incorporate Murray. Then again, he probably wouldn’t be as good as he was in San Antonio so that increases the chance the Hawks regret trading for Murray.