The rumor mill has been active for the Atlanta Hawks lately.
Just a few days after point guard Trae Young shut down trade rumors spurred by his appearance at a Los Angeles Lakers home game, shooting guard Dejounte Murray found himself at the center of rumors of his own following a report by Eric Pincus.
However, in a since-deleted tweet, Murray appeared to shut down those rumors just as quickly as they sprung up.
Murray was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs last summer in exchange for future first-round picks and pick swaps along with power forward Danilo Gallinari, who now plays for the Boston Celtics.
The former all-star’s first year in Atlanta wasn’t terrible by any means, but it was a far cry from the lofty ambitions Hawks fans had in mind when the news broke that Trae Young was finally getting some legitimate backcourt help.
In a season filled with turbulence and defined by mediocrity, Young and Murray failed to establish any kind of cohesion that you see among the game’s best backcourts. Few plays were run that featured both of them in the action, and although they put up respectable stats, it was painfully apparent that they weren’t bringing out the best in each other or covering for each other’s weaknesses.
Instead, what Atlanta Hawks fans watched was a your-turn, my-turn style of offense that produced some highlight plays but also led to the inconsistency that plagued so much of this season. In reality, there are only a few duos throughout the history of the NBA that are talented enough to take turns going one-on-one against whoever was in front of them. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant, and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant come to mind.
As good as Young and Murray may be, they are not anywhere close to that level, which made the clear lack of game planning to establish synergy between them so frustrating.
Strides were made throughout the season to try to fix the Atlanta Hawks
Head coach Nate McMillan, with whom Young had some highly publicized issues, was dismissed shortly after the All-Star break and replaced with the offensively-minded Quin Snyder, who encouraged the team to hike up more threes and inspired a respectable effort in the first-round loss to the Boston Celtics.
In that Boston series, Game 3 gave fans a glimpse of what the best version of Young and Murray might look like, with one making the defense pay for overloading on the other throughout the fourth quarter en route to an Atlanta win.
So should the Hawks really be interested in trading away Murray?
The answer depends on what they could get back. At this point, it’s unlikely that Atlanta could bring back a player as good as or better than Murray in the immediate future. As enticing as an array of young pieces or three-and-D wings may sound, Atlanta would quickly find themselves in the same position they were in last year against Miami, where defensive-minded teams would thoroughly expose their lack of a true second option.
It’s true that Murray was underwhelming-at-best on defense this season, where Hawks fans had hoped the former All-Defensive team member would provide a significant boost that never came to fruition.
Still, as previously mentioned, Atlanta should only entertain deals where they would be getting at least a comparable piece to Murray in return, and there probably aren’t many of those suiters out there.
The Hawks would be better off giving Young and Murray a full offseason to work with a legitimately good head coach in Snyder and figuring out what they truly have in their locker room as things stand.