Dejounte Murray sends message on Quin Snyder as Hawks 'season ends

Dejounte Murray spoke candidly about Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder during his exit interview.
Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray
Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

If changes are coming to the Atlanta Hawks roster as many expect, it won’t be due to deteriorating relationships.

To a man, the Hawks sound like a team that believes they missed out, not one that is fed up.

The big storyline to monitor this offseason is what will come of the Trae Young-Dejounte Murray backcourt duo. And some point to Head Coach Quin Snyder as a potential deciding factor in what the Hawks ultimately do.

It’s hard to argue that anyone was put into the best position possible to succeed this season, including Snyder.

“I've always said it: he's a great coach. I love him as a person, a coach,” Murray told reporters on April 19. “It wasn't fair for him. I feel like he didn't have a healthy group. And it's just like, I don't know what you expect when you got guys in out of lineup, and you just having to basically switch your gameplan each and every game or weeks at a time, whatever.

“Like I said, I think he's a great coach, I love him, he knows I love him, and I love playing for him.”

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The Hawks are not unique in dealing with injuries.

Still, every starter but Murray missed significant stretches of the season. Saddiq Bey, a pleasant surprise as a starter, was lost for the year to a torn ACL. And budding backup big man Onyeka Okongwu made one more appearance than Young, who made a career-low 54 appearances. 

Hunter has never made 70 appearances in a single season while Okongwu has been under the 60-game mark in three of his four pro seasons.

“When there's new lineups, it's just hard to build chemistry that way,” Murray said. 

“I'm not somebody to make excuses. So whoever is healthy, who's ever out there ready to compete at a high level is who you go out and practice with and get ready for games with so. But, obviously, in this league to win at a high level, I feel like you have to be healthy and you have to be consistent.”

Dejounte Murray a voice the Hawks need

Murray cited his competitiveness as a reason he doesn’t think anyone should view this season as anything other than disappointing. He set an expectation coming into the season for the Hawks to avoid the Play-In Tournament.

Murray could also be seen visibly frustrated with Young just ahead of halftime of their Play-In loss to the Chicago Bulls.

After the game, Murray called out the team’s defensive approach, switching too much and doubling DeMar DeRozan despite Coby White – and later Ayo Dosunmu – proving quite effective. But Murray's direct approach is something the Hawks largely lack otherwise.

Murray and Snyder’s relationship — which seemed strong coming into the season – appears to be just as strong as the coach’s bond is rumored to be with Young.

Snyder is said to have pushed to keep Murray through the trade deadline this year.

And the head coach commended Young often for some of the things that he gets criticized for, namely on defense where his stature draws a lot of attention. Less attention goes to Young averaging a career-high 1.3 steals this past season.

He also ranked 11th in charges drawn per game among players with at least 50 appearances and finished behind only Murray on the team in deflections. 

Perhaps most notably, Young posted the second-lowest usage rate of his career.

There are significant changes that have to be made this offseason. But Young has expressed his desire to stay – with the caveat of prioritizing winning – and Murray remains bought in to what the coaching staff is selling.

Whatever direction the front office chooses to go, it has to keep in mind that its three principals seemingly remain in lock-step.