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Grading the Spurs’ trade of Dejounte Murray to the Hawks

The Spurs move in another direction...

NBA: New York Knicks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

It happened. After days of speculation the San Antonio Spurs lone All-Star, Dejounte Murray, was finally traded to the Atlanta Hawks. In the final hour before the deal was completed trade talks were heating up with the Knicks and the Timberwolves also reported as suitors. With this trade, the Spurs showed they are embracing a full rebuild and looking towards the future with a bunch of young talent and a haul of picks.

Dejounte Murray to the Hawks for Danilo Gallinari, Hornets 2023 first round pick (Protected 1-16 then 1-14 then 1-14), Hawks 2025 & 2027 first round pick (both unprotected), 2026 Hawks pick swap.

A few years ago, the Spurs traded away their franchise player for DeMar DeRozan, an All-Star in his own right, because San Antonio were determined to try and stay afloat in a stacked Western Conference. Move forward four years, and this time the front office (now run by GM Brian Wright) chose to rebuild instead of re-tool. This decision makes some sense with how strong the conference is going to look for the next few years and the quality of the draft classes coming up. But it’s tough to see Dejounte leave after he was drafted 29th in 2016, before in typical Spurs fashion he exceeded expectations and became the face of the organization last year while averaging 21-9-8, making the All-Star team, and leading the league in steals.

In terms of what the Spurs got back, they acquired three first rounders and one pick swap, with two of the firsts being unprotected in years down the line. In the last 12 months, the Spurs have collected eight first round picks/pick swaps starting with last off-season’s DeRozan sign-and-trade, before Derrick White and Thaddeus Young were dealt at the trade deadline to the Celtics and Raptors respectfully. Danilo Gallinari also comes back in the trade in order to match salaries with Murray, but expect the Italian who is on an expiring contract to be waived shortly after the deal is official.

In the end, the deal brings similar feelings to White’ departure — bittersweet but ultimately necessary for the future of the franchise. Wright held out until he got the compensation he desired, and while the short-term future might not be pretty, for the first time in 25 years the Spurs have embraced a new direction: one that will hopefully set them up for years to come.

Spurs Trade Grade: B+