“I Don’t Play About LOYALTY,” exclaimed Murray in a tweet on July 5.
The timing of this message is notable.
After what seemed to be a foregone conclusion that he would enter unrestricted free agency next summer, there may be more common ground between the two sides than previously believed. Murray is heading into the final year of a four-year, $64 million contract that he signed in 2021 while still a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
But there has been a shift in the long-term outlook for Murray with the Hawks.
“There continues to be optimism among league personnel familiar with the situation that Atlanta will come to terms on a contract extension for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray,” wrote Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer on July 5.
Murray, 26, averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.1 rebounds this past season while shooting 34.4% on 5.2 threes per game, a career-high mark.
He and Trae Young put up historic numbers but did not enjoy similar results in the win column.
“Obviously coming to Atlanta it was another challenge,” Murray said via the Hawks’ YouTube channel on April 28. “But that’s the kind of person I am. I want all challenges. I don’t want nothing easy. I feel like adversities will really build you, whether it’s on or off the floor. And that’s pretty much what I can say about that.”
Still, both Murray and Young have only spoken positively about the overall experience and about working to improve next season.
The reason why Murray seemed unlikely to sign an extension were laid out by Sam Quinn of CBS Sports. Even with the new collective bargaining agreement going into effect and raising the extension limit from 20% to 40% on first-year salaries, an extension seemingly falls short.
“Murray…will make just $17.7 million next season,” Quinn wrote on April 3. “A 40% bump wouldn’t even take him to $25 million. We can’t accurately project his max in 2024 without knowing where the cap will fall, but at a bare minimum, it’s going to exceed $40 million. It still doesn’t make sense for him to extend, and that’s a major blow to the Hawks.”
The only way the Hawks could have exceeded that 40% bump is if Murray would have earned All-NBA honors which did not happen.
Nevertheless, the show could go on at a very reasonable rate for the Hawks.
Rumored Atlanta Hawks target off the market
The Hawks could have some extra cash to spend if reports of their rumored interest in former Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams were true, his sign-and-trade to the Dallas Mavericks is one less player for the Hawks to spend on.
Williams, 24, averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists and shot 39.5% from deep.
His projected salary for 2023-24 is $12.5 million – 100,000 more than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception which the Hawks opened up by trading John Collins to the Utah Jazz. They also have a $25.3 million trade exception they could have used but Williams lands in Dallas alongside Luka Doncic.
Atlanta’s roster is full with 18 players under contract, 13 of which are already fully guaranteed with two more set to lock in before the end of July.
They are also still heavily linked to Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam whom they have tried to acquire via several different iterations of a trade.