Grade the trade: Hawks send Dejounte Murray to Pelicans for $29 million trio & More

Which team won the trade that sent Dejounte Murray from the Atlanta Hawks to the New Orleans Pelicans?
Atlanta Hawks, Dejounte Murray, New Orleans Pelicans
Atlanta Hawks, Dejounte Murray, New Orleans Pelicans / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Pelicans add down-hill closer at PG in trade with Hawks

The Pelicans’ offense struggled in late-game situations last season. They hope that Murray will help with that.

“New Orleans was 0-24 when trailing entering the fourth and 2-14 in close games and see Murray as a player who can generate offense late in games,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski posted on X on June 28. “Pels remain committed to core that includes Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum. Pels are trying to find common ground with Brandon Ingram contract.”

The Pelicans are expected to explore trade options with Ingram if they cannot strike a deal. The Hawks are among the teams that have been linked to the 2019-20 All-Star in previous trade speculation, though it is unclear how the draft – and this trade – have altered their plans.

Murray, 27, averaged a career-high 22.5 points while shooting 36.3% on a career-high 7.1 threes per game last season.

He averaged 24.8 points and 9.2 assists during a 23-game stretch with Young sidelined.

Murray was also the Hawks’ second most effective scorer in clutch situations among players with more than two such games. Murray averaged 2.5 points per game in the clutch, defined by as within five points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.

He ranked 1.0 PPG behind Young and 1.5 PPG more than his next closest teammate, forward Saddiq Bey.

There are also significant financial implications for the Pelicans in this deal.

“Because New Orleans aggregated the salaries of Larry Nance Jr. and Dyson Daniels, they are now hard capped at the $178.7M first apron,” Marks posted. “Murray has $1.5M in unlikely bonuses that count toward the apron.”

Marks explained the Pelicans are hard-capped because they are taking back more money than they are sending out.

They now sit $2.6 million below the luxury tax line and $8.5 million below the first apron.

Because the deal cannot be made official until July 6 – hence the lack of an announcement from either team so far – there is a chance it gets amended with other players and teams to help the Pelicans avoid the hard cap. 

The Pelicans finished last season seventh in the Western Conference standings. But they were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In addition to Williamson, Murray joins a core featuring forwards Herb Jones and Trey Murphy. 

Murray’s fit alongside McCollum is questionable on paper, so more deals may be on the way. But the latter is at least bigger and more familiar with operating in an off-ball role than Murray’s previous backcourt mate, Young.

Grade – B: The Pelicans are trying to thread a needle few teams have been able to, though they too could have further moves coming that put this transaction in a different light.