As the Atlanta Hawks try to retool around superstar point guard
Trae Young following a very disappointing postseason appearance,
they have been very aggressive in trade talks as of late.
“With the Hawks, they’re as motivated as any team in the league
to make a significant deal or deals to improve their team and try
to find a co-star for Trae Young,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said last
week on SportsCenter. “I think very likely John Collins is
going to be part of any of those deals. I think he’s very likely on
the move somewhere this week as they try to do something big in
The Hawks were reportedly dangling Collins and Kevin Huerter to
the Sacramento Kings in hopes of moving up to No. 4 in the 2022 NBA
Draft for Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, per ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
Although Atlanta didn’t move Collins on draft night, the
athletic forward could be on the move soon. According to The Athletic’s Sam
Amick, Collins was also linked to the Kings in talks that
didn't include the No. 4 pick, while also drawing interest from the
Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards.
Atlanta’s desire to improve their roster isn't going unnoticed,
and now there appears to be a golden opportunity for Hawks general
manager Travis Schlenk. As Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer
originally reported, the San Antonio Spurs are showing a
willingness to trade All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray, but the
price would be significant. It would take a “Jrue Holiday-like”
package of three future first-round picks for San Antonio to even
consider dealing Murray, and the Hawks might be a willing trade
Fischer added this bombshell related to Murray and the Hawks on
the latest episode of Please Don’t
Aggregate This: “I know that Dejounte and Trae want to play
together, or at least have interest in doing it."
It's worth noting that Murray and Young are both represented by
the same agency, Klutch Sports. Suddenly, this starts to make a lot
of sense from all angles.
Why would the Spurs be open to this? Murray’s trade value is at
an all-time high right now coming off a breakout season, and he has
two years, $34.3 million remaining on his current contract. If the
Hawks are willing to meet their asking price, the return package
would be significant for San Antonio. It's possible the Spurs want
to bottom out for potential generational prospect Victor Wembanyama
in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Murray averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and a
league-leading 2.0 steals per game for San Antonio during the
2021-22 campaign. In his first season with a usage rate above 25%,
Murray thrived with more responsibilities on his plate. Murray, who
doesn’t turn 26 years old until September, is about to enter the
prime of his career. It's very possible that he has yet to play his
best basketball, which is a scary thought for the rest of the
The right system could accentuate Murray’s strengths. For the
Hawks, Murray would be the ideal yin-yang combination alongside
Young. With Murray’s tenacious defense and ability to create havoc
in all areas of the game, Young can conserve his energy and focus
on running Atlanta’s offense at an efficient rate. With an ability
to get downhill better than most players around the Association,
Murray would benefit immensely playing next to the gravity thief
that is Young. In one-on-one situations, Young’s floor-spacing
acumen would make Murray’s role so much easier.
Perhaps San Antonio had a realization about where they truly
stand right now. After adding three first-round prospects in the
2022 NBA Draft — Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan, Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley
and Ohio State’s Malaki Branham — the Spurs are clearly committed
to their youth movement. This rookie trio joins Keldon Johnson,
Devin Vassell, Josh Primo, Tre Jones and Romeo Langford as
foundational pieces in San Antonio. Next year, the Spurs project to
have 11 players who are age-22 or younger on their roster.
San Antonio seems focused on stockpiling prospects and
developing their young core. There’s no denying that Murray is a
star-level player, but the two sides may be going in different
directions soon enough. Since Murray is about to turn 26 years old
and will want to be in a winning situation soon, perhaps he doesn't
fit the team's timeline and that's why the Spurs are weighing their
The Hawks actually have a solid amount of assets that could be
appealing and make the Spurs seriously consider dealing Murray.
Collins would be the centerpiece of the package for salary
purposes, but the Hawks also own two first-round picks in next
year’s draft along with all of their own first-rounders going
forward. Even No. 16 overall pick AJ Griffin, who worked out for
the Spurs during the pre-draft process, could be a potential trade
chip used in a Murray blockbuster.
It's worth noting that Collins is a year younger than Murray,
and San Antonio has been linked to him since last offseason when he
was a restricted free agent.
“The Spurs are definitely doing intel on John [Collins], like I
know that,” Fischer said on the latest episode
of Please Don’t Aggregate This. “They’re calling around, asking
It’s rare to find a potential blockbuster where all the dots
begin to connect in rapid succession. If the Spurs are serious
about listening to offers on their All-Star point guard, the Hawks
won't be the only team making an aggressive push for Murray —
plenty of other star-starved organizations will do the same. Thanks
to his versatile skillset, Murray is an elite connecting piece for
any potential win-now franchise.
In Atlanta, one could argue that Murray would be in the best
situation of his career. Forming a one-two punch alongside Young in
the backcourt while also being flanked defensively by De’Andre
Hunter and Clint Capela, Atlanta would have the chance to make
serious noise next season if this happens.
This could be a win-win trade, but we'll see if the Hawks are
willing to meet the Spurs' asking price. But given the recent
rumors, don't be surprised if Murray is playing in Atlanta by the
start of next season.
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