NBA free agency officially opens at 6 p.m. ET, but the Atlanta Hawks have already made their big move by acquiring All-Star San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray via trade. The move gives Atlanta one of the league's most intriguing backcourts by placing Murray alongside fellow All-Star Trae Young. Sportsbooks and the SportsLine Projection Model (see below) are now much more bullish on Hawks 2023 NBA futures with the deal.
Young and Murray will become the first pair of teammates in NBA history who each averaged at least 20 points and eight assists per game in the previous season. Young averaged 28.4 points and 9.7 assists for Atlanta, while Murray averaged 21.1 points and 9.2 assists for San Antonio.
The Hawks reached the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals but were a disappointment this past season, finishing eighth in the East at 43-39. They advanced through the play-in tournament to the first round of the playoffs but lost to Miami in five games. All the Hawks had to give up for Murray was the expendable veteran forward Danilo Gallinari along with three first-round draft picks. The deal also includes a pick swap in 2026.
The two guards are vastly different players -- one comparison often made paints Young as Stephen Curry (not as good) and Murray as Klay Thompson. The 6-foot Young is a gunner, but also a massive defensive liability who doesn't rebound much. Atlanta ranked 26th in defensive rating last season. The Heat were able to focus on Young in the playoff series as he averaged just 15.4 points on 32 percent shooting with more turnovers (31) than assists (30).
Murray had 13 triple-doubles last year, setting the single-season franchise record for the Spurs. He averaged 8.3 rebounds and led the NBA in steals – the 6-foot-5 Murray is a terrific defender (6-foot-10 wingspan) and ball-handler who can help open up space for Young. Murray is scheduled to make $16.6 million next season and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
Make no mistake about it: San Antonio is in tank mode, with the big prize potentially being 7-foot-2, 18-year-old French big man Victor Wembanyama atop the 2023 NBA Draft.
At FanDuel, the Hawks shifted from +9000 to +5000 to win the 2023 NBA championship. Win totals haven't been released for next season yet (they shouldn't be long after free agency concludes) but the SportsLine Projection Model improves the Hawks from 41.2 victories to 44.0 and improves their playoff chances from 54.6 percent to 71.6 percent. Atlanta's title chances made a small jump from 0.27 percent to 1.12 percent – that equates to about +9000. The Spurs naturally get quite a bit worse.
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