The Atlanta Hawks are approaching a crossroads.
That much is exemplified by the kinds of trade rumors they have been in this season that, when juxtaposed with their actions and comments, seem contradictory to their ultimate goals.
One such idea has come about in recent days with rival teams broaching the “concept” of a trade that would send Hawks star Dejounte Murray to the Toronto Raptors for Pascal Siakam, according to NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony in ESPN’s latest mock draft.
Siakam, 29, averaged career highs with 24.2 points and 5.8 assists adding 7.8 rebounds this past season. A two-time All-NBA pick and All-Star, Siakam was originally selected with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and has picked up a Most Improved Player award and an NBA championship along the way.
The 6-foot-9 Siakam is heading into the final season of a four-year, $136.9 million contract.
Murray, 26, is heading into the final year of his contract too; a four-year, $64 million pact that he signed before his first All-Star trip in 2021-22 when he also led the league in steals per game.
The Hawks traded two unprotected first-round picks, a pick swap option, a lottery-protected first-round pick (via CHO), and Danilo Gallinari to the San Antonio Spurs for Murray last offseason. This past season, Murray averaged 20.5, 6.1 assists, and 5.3 rebounds, 34.4% of his career-high 5.2 three-point attempts per game.
Atlanta did not win as many games as they had hoped but Murray and Trae Young put up historic numbers together. And it sounds like the Hawks aren’t as ready to give up on that as those rival executives might be.
“Murray…would cost quite a lot for Atlanta to part with,” wrote Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer on June 16.
Murray would leave roughly $17 million on the table in the first year of an extension.
He is almost certain to hit unrestricted free agency where anything can happen and a lot may have changed by the end of the season. The Hawks are staring down a $13.6 million luxury tax bill next season if they don’t do something, and they have never paid the luxury tax under team governor Tony Ressler.
The hurdle for Hawks, Raptors in potential Dejounte Murray-Pascal Siakam trade
Due to NBA rules, the Hawks would have to aggregate additional salary into the deal to make it legal. Just who they might include is questionable, even amid Fischer’s report that anybody not named Young could be had in the right deal.
That would be an overpay without additional assets coming back, however.
Veteran swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic cannot be traded until September and, from there, the Hawks would have to include some of their younger, cheaper players and prospects to push this one through. Perhaps that is why it is still just a concept being discussed among rival league personnel.
It does show just how fine of a line the Hawks are trying to navigate with a lot of money already on the books, more possibly about to be handed out, and a team in need of some upgrades.