Hawks trade All-Star Dejounte Murray to Pelicans: Report

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 01: Dejounte Murray #5 of the Atlanta Hawks brings the ball up court during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on April 1, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Hawks are trading All-Star guard Dejounte Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In return, the Pelicans are reportedly sending back first-round picks in 2025 and 2027, center Larry Nance Jr. and guard Dyson Daniels to Atlanta. The 2025 pick is the Los Angeles Lakers' unprotected pick acquired via the Anthony Davis trade, while the 2027 one will be the less favorable of the Pelicans' and Milwaukee Bucks' selections.

Murray is entering the first season of a four-year, $120 million million contract he signed with the Hawks last offseason.

The trade is another big swing in the NBA offseason, with the Pelicans attempting to upgrade a core already headlined by Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum. As for the Hawks, they are moving on from a player who was supposed to help them take the next step.

Since trading Davis, the Pelicans have been slowly building themselves back into a playoff team. That effort led to a 49-33 record last season, but that still left them needing the play-in tournament to reach the playoffs.

The Pelicans' season ended with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and it was hard to watch their performance and think additional experience was all they needed to stand out in the West.

With Murray, the Pelicans are getting a player who should slide in reasonably well alongside McCollum in the backcourt while adding to the team's defensive identity. With Herb Jones and coach Willie Green's strong defensive principles, the team ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive rating last year at 111.9.

Murray and McCollum are capable ball-handlers who remain threats on the perimeter, and that figures to form the foundation of the Pelicans' new offense with Trey Murphy while Williamson attacks the paint. It's Ingram's role that may be in flux with the Murray addition, as he is a free agent next offseason.

The Pelicans still have some stuff to figure out this offseason, though, as standout center Jonas Valančiūnas is an unrestricted free agent. With Nance now gone, too, there's a significant hole in the paint for New Orleans, who partially addressed it by selecting Baylor big man Yves Missi with the 21st overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft.

The Pelicans are betting big by trading for Murray, which didn't exactly work out for the last team that did it.

The Hawks acquired Murray from the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2022, parting with a package larger than what the Pelicans gave up (three first-round picks, a pick swap and Danilo Galinari). At the time, the hope was Murray could be an ideal complement for Trae Young, a player with major defensive shortcomings who needs the ball in his hands to be useful.

It's hard to argue Murray didn't do his best, but the overall outcome was, at best, frustrating. The Hawks went 41-41 in their first season with Murray and 36-46 in his second. The team's defense was a mess, and a full season of head coach Quin Snyder didn't help.

So Atlanta is hitting the reset button, partially. Unless the Hawks want to tear the team down to the studs, Young likely isn't going anywhere. He, De'Andre Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic are all under contract for at least two more seasons and parting with Murray could be a way for the team to recalibrate a formula that has so far not worked.

Still, it's hard to not see this trade as an admission that paying up for Murray was a mistake in the first place.