The Atlanta Hawks have found their backcourt partner for Trae Young — a second all-Star ball handler and shot creator who can defend.
Spurs fans, here’s a link to Victor Wembanyama highlights, so you can start dreaming.
The Atlanta Hawks are trading Danilo Gallinari and multiple first-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2022
The 2025 and 2027 first-rounders are unprotected ATL first-round picks, per league source. https://t.co/6M1PAaCfQ8
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 29, 2022
Young was one happy Hawk after the news broke.
This 💩 just got real
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) June 29, 2022
For the Hawks, this is a fantastic fit on paper. While Trae Young was an All-NBA player last season, averaging 28.4 points and 9.7 assists a game with incredible shooting range, the Hawks had to fight their way out of the play-in as the No. 9 seed and then got easily pushed aside in five games by the Heat in the first round. The Hawks had two core problems last season: No secondary shot creation (or good point guard to have on the floor when Young is resting) and a 26th-ranked defense.
Murray helps on both counts — and he and Young reportedly wanted to play together.
Murray was an All-Star last season who averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists and 8.3 rebounds a game last season as the primary offensive engine in San Antonio — although he wasn’t terribly efficient, with a slightly-below averaged 53.3 true shooting percentage. He’s also going to draw a key defensive assignment nightly as Atlanta works to hide Young on that end.
This was a lot for Atlanta to give up — three first-round picks, unprotected. That’s also the price for getting a 26-year-old All-Star at a position of need around the league. The Hawks front office still has a lot of work to round out this roster, which likely will include a John Collins trade. Somewhere.
That Collins was not part of the package headed to San Antonio speaks to its plans — the Spurs are entering full rebuild mode. It was something put off for a few years after the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili retirements so Popovich could keep winning. Not so coincidentally they changed course heading into the season where projected franchise cornerstone players Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson are in the draft.
The way Murray’s contract works out, the Spurs were going to have trouble re-signing him as a max free agent in a couple of years, he’s young but not exactly in their rebuild timeline, and his trade value was not going to get much higher — if the Spurs were thinking at all about trading Murray, now was the time. They obviously were.
Only $5 million of Gallinari’s $21.4 million contract for next season is guaranteed (that number may have been increased to make this trade work, but it’s still going to be closer to half the full number at most) and the Spurs will waive him.
This was about the three first-round picks, which will help jumpstart the Spurs’ rebuild. This may be a rough season for Spurs fans on the court, but the hope is a payoff when the lottery ping-pong balls start bouncing around next May.
For the Spurs, this trade is all about hope for the future.
For the Hawks, it’s about winning right now.