Three Dejounte Murray Trade Destinations

Atlanta Hawks v Golden State Warriors
Atlanta Hawks v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The NBA trade deadline is exactly two weeks from today. We've already seen some action on the market, the most recent deal featuring the Miami Heat sending Kyle Lowry and a protected first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Terry Rozier. While it's not expected to be a super busy deadline there is one impactful name who has been shopped for weeks and is nearly a guarantee to get traded by February 8: Dejounte Murray.

The Atlanta Hawks traded several picks for Murray during the 2022 offseason believing his defensive prowess and ball-handling ability would take the load off Trae Young on both ends of the floor. That simply has not happened. The duo can't play off each other on offense and it turns out Murray is a touch overrated defensively in that he racks up steal numbers and can cover most backcourt players, but his slight frame means he's overmatched against bigger wings and guards. Which may not be a problem on some teams but it was a big problem when he's lining up next to a six-foot, 200-pound point guard every night.

The Hawks have apparently decided the experiment was a failure and have been poking around for potential trades for a while now. Trading Murray would help recoup some assets to offset what they gave up for him, of course, but getting off his $18 million salary is also the quickest path to getting under the luxury tax line. With that additional motivation it seems inevitable Murray will be in a different uniform by the All-Star Break, regardless of how good the possible deals are.

Murray is averaging 21.4 points and five assists per game while shooting 38 percent from three, the second-highest percentage of his career and easily the best he's ever shot from deep while averaging more than one attempt per game. On the flip side he's averaging merely 1.3 steals per game, the lowest mark since his rookie season. As previously noted Murray is making a very managable $18 million this season, but next year his $114 million extension will kick in that starts with a $24 million annual salary and only increases from there.

Here are a few possible destinations for the All-Star guard.

Los Angeles Lakers

This week the Lakers became front-runners for Murray as multiple reports from The Athletic pegged him as the team's top deadline target. Which makes a lot of sense. He is one of the few available players who could make an immediate impact to some degree while sticking around for a while, the only combination of factors that could entice Los Angeles to give up their long-term draft assets. He would be a great fit, too. Murray could take some of the playmaking duties off LeBron James in a more reliable manner than D'Angelo Russell has this season while improving their backcourt defense significantly. He isn't a deadeye shooter but certainly good enough to provide spacing.

While there is a strong possibility that a third team would have to get involved to get this done, the Lakers can make it work very easily. Russell's expiring deal can match Murray's salary so they're all set money-wise. If the Lakers threw in their 2029 first-round pick, that should get the conversation going. Looping in another team willing to give up something for Russell is probably the next step. However, Atlanta might find the market for Murray dead otherwise and decide this is their best path.

The most important thing to remember here is this: Murray is repped by Rich Paul and Klutch. Which means he's a Laker eventually. We just don't know when.

Detroit Pistons

Beat writer James Edwards III noted today that he does not expect the Pistons to engage with Atlanta about Murray unless their asking price goes down. Let's say, in this imaginary scenario, it does in fact go down. Why would the Pistons go after Murray, a good player but far from someone who can turn the franchise around? Because Detroit is embarrassingly bad and needs good players no matter what the long-term play is. Murray qualifies. He'd take playmaking duties off Cade Cunningham's shoulders while putting up a fight on defense. Having him locked down for the next four years would surely appeal to Pistons management, too, since it is hard to envision a player volunteering to play for this organization. For the Hawks, the Pistons are an appealing partner even if they won't give up one of their core young pieces because they can absorb half of Murray's salary into their empty cap space and Atlanta need only take back $10 million; the $8 million difference would push them under the luxury tax line by a few million.

A possible trade could be Alec Burks for Murray and some draft assets mixed in. Atlanta isn't going to get an unprotected first-round pick from Detroit but squeezing out a top-5 protected 2026 first might be realistic and has a legit chance of being a good selection. Ultimately, though, this feels like a trade that would happen if the Hawks just threw their hands up and dumped Murray to save themselves money.

San Antonio Spurs

Sending Murray back from whence he came is not a bad idea for anybody involved. Murray's numbers have improved since leaving Gregg Popovich but he's become more undisciplined than he was in San Antonio, leading to some unfavorable advanced stats regarding his actual impact on winning. The Spurs need consistent guard play like they need air; only Tre Jones is anything resembling capable on their entire roster. That will eventually do damage to Victor Wembanyama's development. And the Hawks are desperately hoping the Spurs are willing to play ball because there's a slim chance they'd be able to recoup one of the two unprotected picks they gave San Antonio for Murray in the first place.

The Spurs could trade Doug McDermott for Murray straight-up, which puts the Hawks right at the luxury tax line and they could pretty easily flip his shooting for more assets and cap room. In exchange, perhaps San Antonio gives back the 2026 pick swap the Hawks owe them. Or merely change the protections on it so that Atlanta would get it back if they completely bottomed out. There's a lot to like for both sides on this one.