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Woj: Dejounte Murray Traded to Hawks from Spurs for Danilo Gallinari, Multiple 1sts

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 29, 2022

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs reportedly agreed to trade guard Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday in exchange for forward Danilo Gallinari, three first-round picks and a future pick swap.

Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA

The 2025 and 2027 first-rounders are unprotected ATL first-round picks, per league source. <a href="https://t.co/6M1PAaCfQ8">https://t.co/6M1PAaCfQ8</a>

Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA

Teams are very, very hesitant to do this. They often fight for even top-1 protection. The CHA pick is middling/lotto-protected, but the rest is about as much draft equity (maybe more) as SAS could have ever anticipated getting. Even pushing to 2025/27 (and not 2023/2025) matters <a href="https://t.co/J5eRNuCadu">https://t.co/J5eRNuCadu</a>

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the news. The Hawks were one of several teams negotiating trades with the Spurs for Murray in recent weeks as San Antonio seemingly embarks on a full-scale rebuilding effort.

Rumors regarding Murray's status with the Spurs have been swirling for several weeks. The All-Star guard has even gone so far as to acknowledge the rumors on social media.

San Antonio's motivation to move Murray seems curious at best. He's coming off a career-best season, posting averages of 21.0 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals while playing stellar perimeter defense.

The Spurs also have Murray under a team-friendly deal that will pay him $34.2 million over the next two seasons.

While this is clearly the beginning of a full-scale rebuilding effort, Murray doesn't turn 26 until September and still will be well within his prime when the Spurs plan on competing again.

The 2023 NBA draft features forward Victor Wembanyama, one of the most touted prospects in recent memory, and another potential superstar in guard Scoot Henderson. It's possible the Spurs feel they would be too good with Murray in the fold to have a realistic shot at landing a top-two pick.

That said, the fact the Spurs were in this position calls into question their team-building strategy of the last few years. There were calls for the franchise to begin its rebuilding stage in 2018 when Kawhi Leonard requested a trade. Rather than take a package of picks and young players, the Spurs instead chose a package highlighted by DeMar DeRozan, who allowed the team to remain competitive but stuck in the purgatory of mediocrity.

The Spurs made the playoffs in DeRozan's first year with the franchise but were ousted in the first round before failing to make the postseason each of the last three seasons. It's fair to argue the Spurs never would have been in a position to need to trade Murray if they chose the correct path four years ago.

There is also the matter of whether 73-year-old Gregg Popovich has the stomach for a rebuild that will likely take him into his late 70s.

As far as the Hawks go, this is a no-brainer. Murray fills two of the team's biggest needs, perimeter defense and a ball-handler who can help take the load off Trae Young's shoulders. The Charlotte first-round pick is protected picks 1-16 next season and lottery-protected through 2025; it can't even get the Spurs in the Wembayana race.

The two Hawks' first-round picks project out of the lottery for the foreseeable future, barring some cataclysmic series of injuries or a falling out with Young.

As it stands, Atlanta gave up three picks that project to be in the late teens to mid-20s and a veteran expiring contract for a 25-year-old All-Star. It's nothing short of a home run.

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