The Atlanta Hawks' Dejounte Murray era has not gone according to plan. Following an All-Star campaign with the San Antonio Spurs in 2021-22, Atlanta traded three first-round picks, two of which were unprotected, a 2026 first-round pick swap, and Danilo Gallinari to the Spurs for Murray. The dual-All-Star backcourt of Murray and Trae Young was supposed to see the Hawks rise above the .500ish play-in team they had been, but at 20-27, they’ve gone backward.
Murray was supposed to be the final piece of a contender, and the Hawks paid a premium to land him. Their mediocre to poor showings the past two seasons (41-41 and 20-27) aren’t Murray’s fault; he has improved as a shooter each season, but his fit next to Trae Young would make square pegs and round holes blush.
Murray was at his best in San Antonio orchestrating the offense. In his lone All-Star season, he was among the lead leaders in total pick-and-rolls run, but so was Young in Atlanta. The pairing of Murray and Young never developed synergy because what made them great in the first place was redundant. The Hawks failed to realize they had acquired two square pegs for one square hole.
The ill-fitting duo forced the Hawks into an unenviable corner. Have one guard thrive at the expense of the other, and the Hawks correctly chose to let Trae Young feast to the detriment of Murray. Only a season and a half into the Young-Murray backcourt experiment, the Hawks have concluded that the pair needs to be broken up, and once again, they have chosen Young over Murray.
Dejounte Murray needs rescuing from Atlanta. He is an excellent pick-and-roll maestro, and the improvements he has made as a shooter in Atlanta suggest he could be even better than he was in San Antonio. However, to be saved, he needs to go to a place where his talents will be best utilized. These are five teams in position to rescue Dejounte Murray from the Hawks.
How the Brooklyn Nets can rescue Dejounte Murray
No team in the NBA could benefit more from adding Dejounte Murray to their core than the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are a below-average team (minus-1.2 net rating), and it’s largely because they don’t have an actual NBA-quality starting point guard.
Spencer Dinwiddie and Dennis Smith Jr. have done their best, but the only team arguably with a worse point guard situation and a better net rating than the Nets is the Orlando Magic. The knock-on-effect of their poor point guard situation not only hurts their offense (115.8, 17th), but forces Mikal Bridges, one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, to expend a ton of energy on offense just to get mildly efficient shots up. If you throw Dejounte Murray into the mix, suddenly Bridges will get better looks on offense, and he can then allocate more energy to defense, where the Nets have been surprisingly poor (117.0, 18th).
The cost to save Murray from Atlanta won’t be cheap, but it’ll be a bargain compared to what it took to get him there in the first place. A fair offer would be Spencer Dinwiddie’s expiring contract, Dallas’ 2029 unprotected first, and 2025 Phoenix’s unprotected first. However, the Nets have a ton of additional first-round picks that could be substituted in.
Dallas’ 2029 unprotected first is simply a proxy for a far-out first-round pick with immense upside, and the 2025 Phoenix unprotected first represents a solid first-round pick that doesn’t project to be a lottery pick. If the Hawks prefer a different set of picks, the Nets should be amenable to that, but right now, his value is one high upside first and one solid non-lottery pick.
While Dinwiddie is only involved as salary ballast, swapping his expiring contract for Murray will shave $25.5 million from Atlanta’s books in 2024-25, giving them a bit more breathing room. With a fresh injection of draft assets and more salary cap space, the Hawks will be in a better position to find a suitable co-star next to Trae Young.