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Dejounte Murray to San Antonio trades that would benefit the Spurs

The PtR staff discusses Murray trades that would make sense for the Spurs, Wembanyama’s selflessness in the clutch, and whether the team needs another big man.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

What’s the most you’d be willing to give up for Dejounte Murray, assuming the Spurs are actually interested in bringing him back?

Mark Barrington: I feel like my Spurs homer instinct is getting the best of me, but I wouldn’t give more than a mid-first round pick (so definitely not the 2024 Spurs first-rounder, maybe 2025 or later) and Doug McDermott, and however many second round picks it takes to close the deal. ESPN’s trade machine says -5 wins for Atlanta and -13 (!) for the Spurs, which means that the Spurs would have a negative number of wins for the rest of the season, which seems unlikely. Even given the gloomy evaluation from the trade machine, I think it’s still a deal that benefits both teams, since Doug will be off the books next season for the Hawks, giving them more cap flexibility.

But this is a pipe dream, since the Hawks will definitely get a better offer than that from another team.

Bruno Passos: Murray wouldn’t be at the top of my list to play with Wembanyama, but he’s not the worst fit. I assume other teams looking to win now would have better offers, and what front office would want to trade a player back to the same team for pennies on the dollar, but I’d consider something like the Bulls’ 2025 first and 2 or 3 second-rounders for Murray. If you don’t like the fit, he’s on a long enough deal that you can still recoup assets. If he works, you have a pretty high-level backcourt pairing with Vassell and some fun Instagram posts to laugh about. Just try and bring Patty Mills home along with him.

Jesus Gomez: An interesting alternative to the question is, what could the Hawks want? They are terrible at defense, so Keldon Johnson makes little sense. Sochan would be someone they could be interested in. The best fit for them is Devin Vassell, but the Spurs are not doing that. Picks? Maybe giving them back the Hornets’ pick and the rights to the swap along with expiring deals? I’d do that but it doesn’t seem like enough. I don’t see a deal that makes sense unless they just want to cut their losses and get some draft capital back.

Bill Huan: I think Mark and Bruno both nailed a theoretical trade. For context, Murray was dealt to Atlanta along with Jock Landale in exchange for Danilo Gallinari (for salary matching), the Hawks’ 2025 and 2027 firsts, and 2026 first-round swap, and another protected 2023 first via Charlotte but from New York. The Spurs sold him at the absolute apex of his value, and at this point, Atlanta will likely only get a return commensurate to half of what they originally gave up. With that in mind, a fair deal could be one of their own firsts, a few seconds, and Doug McDermott for salary-matching purposes.

The Spurs are lacking proven center depth after some injuries. Should they try to add a veteran big like the recently available Bismack Biyombo or stick with what they have?

Barrington: I think that Biyombo would be great on the Spurs. He doesn’t fit the timeline for the rebuilding Spurs, but it would be great to have a defensive stopper in the paint whenever Victor has to sit. He’s only under contract for this year, so there’s not really a lot of harm taking him on as a short-term rental.

Passos: Why not. It’s pretty surprising that a Grizzlies team that was already so short-handed didn’t see the use in retaining a proven vet, but Biyombo would reduce the dependence on Dom Barlow (improving, still not quite there) and be another big body to throw in place of or alongside Wembanyama. Did you know he’s attempted just 3 threes over a 13-year career?

Gomez: If Wemby is going to continue to play under 30 minutes, adding another capable body makes sense. It doesn’t have to be Biyombo, but he could be a good option as a rebounder and shot blocker. But if Collins returns in a couple of weeks and Wemby starts getting more playing time, I wouldn’t like another veteran blocking Dom Barlow from getting some minutes, since he’s been showing progress.

Huan: I’m pretty indifferent here. One positive that’s come out of the injuries has been Wemby being forced into playing more center, which is the position that he needs to fill long-term for San Antonio to have the most success. If the Spurs choose not to add a veteran big, it’ll also be nice to see Pop have Sochan and Keldon play the five: after all, this is an experimental season, right? On the other hand, signing a center would alleviate the workload on those players, and a vet like Biyombo would be a nice addition to the locker room too.

There has been some controversy about Victor Wembanyama’s decision to pass late in games instead of taking the shot. Do you think he’s been making the right choices?

Barrington: I think he should have taken the shot in the Cavaliers game, but he made the right choice when he passed the ball to Tre at the end of the Bucks game. In the last minutes of the game, your best players take the shot, unless they can get the ball to another player with a wide open look and enough time for a comfortable shot. Tre had a great look, and sometimes you just have to live with a missed shot.

I feel like his decision-making is improving almost with every game, and he’s so far ahead of where I thought he’d be now with less than half a season in the NBA, so I’m not at all unhappy with where he is now. Has his decision-making always been perfect? No, but the pace of improvement has been phenomenal, and he could be an elite passer pretty soon. He already looked like one against the Pistons, but the level of competition might have had something to do with that performance.

Passos: The decision-making has clearly improved (peep the monthly assist and turnover trends), but that was objectively one he should want back. When you’re that tall and that close to the basket in a situation like that, on a roster like this, you are the best play, and I assume he’ll figure out when it’s good to be selfish pretty quickly.

Gomez: I think his decisions were either right or acceptable and I’ve explained my reasoning already. In general I think it’s a good thing that he’s willing to make those passes. We know he’s not afraid to take big shots and at one point he was looking a little too focused on shooting even when he didn’t have the cleanest looks, so the fact that he’s not only comfortable enough with not being the hero while already trusting his teammates is a good thing in my eyes.

Huan: Regardless of the outcome, I was quite impressed by Wemby’s vision on that pass. I think he did make the right decision since Sochan had a better look at the basket, and it’s important to remember that outcome bias is likely skewing our perception of that play. After all, if one of Sochan or Keldon makes that shot, would we still be questioning Wemby’s choice to pass?

Overall, has Wemby been perfect with his decision-making? Of course not, but the steps that he’s already taken have been extremely impressive and encouraging. Wemby will undoubtedly look even better when he gains more experience and when the Spurs add a legit playmaker in the coming years, so I’m not concerned about his on-court reads at all.