The Atlanta Hawks traded for Dejounte Murray in the 2022 offseason with the hope of him forming a dynamic guard tandem alongside Trae Young that could compete in the Eastern Conference.
Over a year and a half later, the results have been quite underwhelming and the Hawks have emerged as potential sellers before the upcoming February 8 trade deadline.
Murray is an attractive target for teams that are hoping to build something beyond this season as his four-year, $114 million extension only begins next year. Three of Atlanta’s East rivals–the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks–have emerged as possible destinations for the one-time NBA All-Star along with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors who both seem to pop up in every trade rumor.
These five teams could all use a defensive guard in the mold of Murray and it is plausible that he ends up on one of them within the next three weeks.
However, the Sixers and the Knicks in particular must think twice before pulling the trigger given the challenges that the Murray-Young pairing have faced. A potential backcourt duo of Murray with Tyrese Maxey in Philadelphia or Jalen Brunson in New York could face similar problems that the Hawks have faced.
The Heat, Lakers, and Warriors are theoretically a better landing spot for Murray, though the challenge with these two teams is that they might not be willing to give up the requisite assets that Atlanta would demand in exchange for their 6’5 guard.
Aside from Murray, a few other players could be on the move over the next few days. The Toronto Raptors already shipped out OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam relatively early and could move more veterans such as Gary Trent Jr. and Dennis Schroder as they shift their focus to the future.
The Chicago Bulls may decide to concentrate on the future too as they have had quite a mediocre season so far. This has led to several discussions about potential landing spots for DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso who could all give potential contenders a much needed boost.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers may no longer be looking to find a new home for their veteran shooter Buddy Hield following the acquisition of Siakam earlier this week that bolstered their playoff hopes. Siakam cost the Pacers their starting shooting guard Bruce Brown which frees up playing time for the floor-spacing Hield.
Those involved in this year’s trade deadline rumors may lack the star power of recent years, but these players, particularly Murray and the Bulls’ standouts, could tilt the odds in favor of whatever team lands them. The landscape of the NBA, particularly in the East,
could see some meaningful changes in the coming weeks and this surprisingly hinges on the movement of some players from teams that are struggling to find their footing in this year’s race.