Dejounte Murray is no longer a Spur, but he still has something to say about the organization that recently traded him to Atlanta. The Hawks guard took to social media in recent days to express how happy he feels in his new situation and ended up taking some shots at his former team along the way.
First, Murray posted a now-deleted tweet about how free, wanted, and happy he feels, which could be interpreted as a criticism of his time in San Antonio.
Unsurprisingly, Spurs fans didn’t react well to the post. Murray, either seeing that it was being received differently than how he intended or deciding that it wasn’t worth the criticism it was receiving, took it down. At that point, there was nothing too noteworthy about the whole thing, since Murray has never been known for practicing an abundance of self-restraint on social media.
However, things escalated when Dejounte decided to respond to a fan criticizing him in the comments of his farewell Instagram post to San Antonio by directly and explicitly saying that he didn’t agree with the franchise’s approach, which he thinks it will doom it in the future.
It’s fair to say those are incendiary words, and Spurs fans were decidedly not happy with the All-Star point guard.
If Murray’s apparent heel turn comes as a surprise, it’s understandable. In the past, he’s always talked about how happy he was to be drafted by the Spurs and how much he appreciated the organization for believing in him when others didn’t. At the same time, anyone who has followed Murray for long knows that he can be thin-skinned at times, is often emotional during down moments, and a little too exuberant when he’s excited. The first tweet about being happy is not surprising at all.
The reply about the Spurs’ system is a little more interesting, in part because it’s hard to figure out exactly what he meant. Is he talking about the post-Kawhi Leonard stretch in which the front office failed to improve the roster? The new strategy to bottom out? Is he taking aim at Gregg Popovich’s leadership or his offensive and defensive schemes? Is he talking about the entire organizational structure of the franchise? It’s impossible to be certain from what little he said. In a way, it would be better if he elaborated on what he actually means, perhaps in an interview instead of Instagram’s comment section. Knowing how Dejounte operates, that’s not likely to happen, since he probably said it in the heat of the moment without thinking too much about it and has already moved on.
Now, how the Spurs faithful will react to these pointed comments from a player they have been rooting for since 2016 is unclear. Everyone will have their own reaction, but the wise choice is probably not to read too much into it. Murray felt attacked, and he responded. Since then, he’s made sure to say that his problem is not with the fans. As for the Spurs, they are moving on, and if they nail the draft in the next couple of years, Dejounte’s comments will look silly in retrospect. It would be understandable to take his words seriously and worry about how the franchise is perceived around the league and how it could affect the rebuilding process, but the Spurs are not going to be focusing on free agency for a while, so they should be fine, even if their reputation actually does take a hit.
The biggest takeaway from the whole thing is that it’s always good to remember how tenuous the connection between teams and players is. The Big Three spoiled fans in that regard, but they were an anomaly. More often than not, it’s just business. The Spurs didn’t draft and develop Murray out of the kindness of their heart, hoping to give an overlooked kid with a checkered past a chance; they did it because they thought he could help them win games and moved him when they thought they would be better without him. Murray, for his part, had no choice but to play in San Antonio out of college and made the smart decision to accept an extension when he wasn’t as established as he is now, but he seems understandably happy to have moved on to a better situation. There’s nothing wrong with that.
For many fans, this will be the moment in which they stop rooting for Murray. For others, that moment came the second he was traded. All that has really changed after the past couple of days is that Dejounte has decreased the likelihood of receiving the warmest of welcomes when he returns to San Antonio. But if he’s fine with that, everyone else should be too.