The internet can be a rough environment for everyone, and it’s no different for professional athletes. But it’s rare to see those interactions be as revealing as one fan’s online encounter with Atlanta Hawks (18-27) star Dejounte Murray was.
The message details some telling insight into the current state of the Hawks.
"“Come watch practice and see that team PLAY TOGETHER and then watch the games and see another team!!!!!!!! Also if you want my job come get it. I want to see you be told 1 thing in practice and used a way in practice and when the real games start it’s a totally different game!!!! Come be a spot up player. Oh yeah not to mention actually watch the games and see how long I’m out the games when I sit and how long I actually get to make decisions as a playmaker!!!!!! Oh yeah come ask every player on this team this year and last year are they happy then come talk to me!!!!!!!! Ya’ll want stats over wins and I can’t relate sucka.”"
There is a lot to unpack there.
First, it is impossible to confirm whether or not Murray -- who has again deactivated his Twitter account, marking the second time this season -- sent this message.
It does, however, fit a pattern of fan interactions Murray has had throughout his career going back to his time with the San Antonio Spurs and even recently as a member of the Hawks, where he is direct in his messaging.
Murray’s usage appears to be at the heart of this purported gripe, and it was certainly a concern coming into his pairing alongside Trae Young. Both players pushed for the partnership ahead of last season but set legitimate expectations for this season.
They combined to join Chicago Bulls stars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as the second set of teammates to average 20 points and 6.0 assists in a season last year.
But the Hawks finished 41-41 and were bounced from the playoffs in five games.
The Hawks posted a plus-1.6 net efficiency differential when Murray and Young played together last season, per Cleaning The Glass, a sample size of over 3,400 possessions. This season, their rating is minus-5.3 in just over 2,000 possessions and the Hawks are nine games below .500.
Murray is averaging a career-high 21.4 points and shooting 38.8% on a career-high 6.2 attempts per game.
Trade rumors surround Dejounte Murray amid career-year as scorer
He is, however seeing the highest percentage of his two-pointers come from an assist since 2017-18, his second season in the league. His usage rate, while up 0.5% from last season, is still well below his 27.3% mark as an All-Star in his final season with the Spurs in 2021-22 at 24.9% this season.
Murray’s minutes are also down from last season, though they match that 2021-22 campaign.
Murray has been mired in trade rumors as the Hawks are said to be over their backcourt duo and looking to retool around Young. Murray has largely put aside questions about trade rumors, saying it’s disrespectful to his teammates.
He did admit he would welcome trade interest from his former head coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs are one of several teams rumored to have an interest in trading for Murray.
Murray also said that he was “numb” to the rumors after being “humiliated”, per TNT's Chris Haynes during the Los Angeles Lakers – another rumored suitor – and Clippers showdown on January 23.