Former San Antonio Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray recently appeared on the Up in Smoke podcast with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes. During the hour-long interview, Murray repeatedly touched on his time with the Spurs. While he praised the organization after being traded to the Atlanta Hawks last summer, it appears that he’s done holding back.
Murray is the most recent disgruntled ex-Spurs to criticize the team.
Murray’s comments, ironically, aren’t the first, or even the second time in recent years that former Spurs have lashed out against the team. While the Spurs have a sterling reputation, it appears they’ve left several players feeling as though they’ve been mistreated by the organization after their time with the team has ended. To be fair to the Spurs, some of the criticisms appear to be completely unfair.
For instance, Robert Horry won two championships in his five seasons with the team but has consistently bashed the Spurs since his retirement. The issue appears to be that the team opted not to re-sign him after the 2008 season. In fact, no other team did, making the Spurs the last team that he played for before retiring. Horry was 37 years old at the time and clearly slowing down, and the team made a conscious decision to get younger.
The same can be said of Jackson, who was a two-time member of the Spurs and won a championship with the team in 2003. While Jackson has had good things to say about his first stint with the team, much of his anger seems to be related to his second stint with the squad.
Jackson has criticized Tony Parker by calling him selfish, saying that he was better than Manu Ginobili, and coach Gregg Popovich, who ultimately cut Jackson a week before the 2013 playoffs. Of course, that Spurs team would go on to the NBA Finals without Jackson, which likely added to his animosity towards the team.
As someone who watched that team closely, I can say that Jackson played poorly, and Popovich wisely made the decision to ride with a shortened wing rotation that included Ginobili, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard. Most readers don’t have to be a soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach to make that call. Jackson failed to accept his reduced role and was cut rather than have him stick around and sulk.
Murray’s criticisms of his former team appear unfair.
Back to Murray, I obviously can’t speak to how he felt, but some of his critiques missed the bigger picture. For example, Murray criticized the Spurs for signing guard Nico Laprovíttola, whom Murray saw as a threat to his role, but that absolutely wasn’t the case. Laprovíttola was a late addition to the roster and nothing more than a depth piece; in fact, he didn’t even last a month before being waived by the team.
Murray was also upset with Tony Parker leaving the team the season after Popovich named him as the starting point guard, a role that Parker had filled for almost two decades. Murray felt that Parker should’ve been a mentor, but Parker clearly felt as though he could still play. However, the Spurs made it clear that he wouldn’t be a rotation player had he returned for his 19th season.
With Jackson appearing to egg him on and also chiming in, Murray agreed that the Spurs’ culture “isn’t for everybody.” But Murray also chose to re-sign with the team after they helped him develop into a good player and eventually an all-star. The Spurs later opted to trade him, with his input, rather than have him waste his prime on a team that wasn’t ready to compete. Based on that, it seems that the team tried to do right by their player but he clearly doesn’t feel that way.
Murray perceiving slights where there weren’t any shows that the relationship with the team would have eventually headed south. Therefore, the Spurs’ decision to trade Murray for three first-round picks and a future pick swap was the right call and a move that is already looking like an absolute steal for their team.
After all, the Hawks are openly dysfunctional, and there’s a chance Murray leaves after next season, if Trae Young doesn’t request a trade before then. Ultimately, it appears that Murray’s relationship with the Spurs had run its course, but he is downplaying his role in the breakup.