If you’re still perplexed why the San Antonio Spurs traded All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks for forward Danilo Gallinari and three first-round picks, allow me to try and clear up any confusion. In reality, there’s one big reason why the Spurs traded Murray.
It’s one of the darkest and decrepit places an NBA franchise can be in. In this stage, a team either sneaks into the playoffs consistently, but said team isn’t good enough to get past the first-round, or said team isn’t bad enough, and they end up with a later lottery pick. They’re stuck in the middle and it’s one of the hardest places to get out of.
This was the third year in a row where the Spurs were stuck in this godforsaken place. In the last three seasons, the Spurs have been the 10-seed twice and the 11-seed once. The Murray trade is a scream for help by the Spurs to get out of this mess.
There’s no telling if the Spurs’ plan will go accordingly, but one thing is for sure: they have escaped no man’s land.
Outside of forward Keldon Johnson and center Jakob Poeltl (who could be traded), the Spurs have a scarcity of any developed offensive players. They have some good role players, but it’ll be interesting to see who comes in and takes the offensive reins now that Murray is gone.
The Spurs added some nice pieces in the draft, but they’ll need more development until they can be trusted on the offensive end on a consistent level.
Looking at the other rosters in the league, it’s fair to say that the Spurs lack the most offensive upside, but to be fair, that’s never stopped the Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich in the past.
What did the Spurs get out of the trade?
As of now, the only name in the trade for the Spurs is Gallinari. He’s a good role player on an expiring contract, so there’s a good chance he gets moved to another team at some point during the off-season or next season.
But the focus of attention is on the Hawks’ own two unprotected first-round picks that they sent to the Spurs. Because the history surrounding trading unprotected first-round picks has yielded a multitude of egregious returns – just ask the Brooklyn Nets – you predominantly see picks with protections on them.
Now the Hawks should be competitive for the next few years with point guard Trae Young only 23 years old and Murray, 26, but the NBA is unpredictable like any other sport.
2023 NBA Draft Class
Victor Wembanyama. That is the guy the Spurs are putting all their eggs into one basket for. After you’re done reading this, do yourself a favor and watch Wembayna highlights. Seriously, this guy will change your perception of what a 7-foot-3 tall center with a 7-foot-9 wingspan can do on the court.
There’s no guarantee that the Spurs will get the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft, but unless a prime Tim Duncan steps out of a Delorean, the Spurs should have one of the top-three worst records in the league.
I say “top-three” because in 2019 the NBA installed a new lottery system that gave the teams with the three worst records a 14% chance to nab the No. 1 pick. As long as the Spurs don’t have a “Moneyball” type of season, they should have no problem securing a top-three pick.
Even if the Spurs don’t land the first overall pick, players like G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. should be in their range. Both guards provide elite scoring and would provide the Spurs with some much-needed offensive upside.
But make no mistake about it, the Spurs – like a lot of teams – have all their sights set on Wembanyama.