Southwest Notes: Spurs, Murray, Rockets, Tate, Zion

Spurs general manager Brian Wright said it was tough to see Dejounte Murray go after the team helped him develop over the past six years, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs drafted Murray with the 29th pick of the 2016 draft.

We’ve watched him grow from his rookie year to being an All-Star last year,” Wright said in a news conference to announce the finalization of the trade that sent Murray to Atlanta. “You wish this job was full of easy decisions. The reality is, there’s a lot of hard decisions.”

Murray enjoyed a breakout season in 2021/22, averaging 21.1 PPG, 9.2 APG, 8.3 RPG, and a league-leading 2.0 SPG with a shooting line of .462/.327/.794 in 68 games (34.8 MPG). The 25-year-old was the runner-up for the Most Improved Player award.

San Antonio received three first-round picks and a pick swap in the deal, and while Wright certainly wasn’t in a celebratory mood, he said the offer from the Hawks was too good to pass up.

We just got to the place where the deal was the right thing to do,” Wright said.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jae’Sean Tate‘s new three-year contract with the Rockets contains a team option in the final year, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tate will earn $7MM in 2022/23 and $6.5MM in ’23/24, and the deal also includes a bonus tied to how many games the team wins, Iko reports. The 26-year-old Tate averaged 11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.8 APG on .498/.312/.707 shooting in 78 games (26.4 MPG) this season.
  • Rafael Stone, the general manager of the Rockets, chose to acquire multiple unprotected first-round picks and pick swaps when he sent James Harden to the Nets. That decision looks like a wise one now that Kevin Durant has requested a trade out of Brooklyn, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who details why he thinks the move might pay off for Houston — depending on what the Nets get in return for the superstar forward.
  • The news that the Pelicans are nearing an agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension with Zion Williamson brings welcome stability to New Orleans, per William Guillory of The Athletic. As Guillory writes, the Pelicans have dealt with all kinds of turmoil over the years, the most recent being the rampant speculation that Williamson would request a trade or decide against signing a rookie contract extension, which obviously isn’t the case. Once the deal is officially inked, the franchise will have all of its core players signed for the next few years, and the terrific rookie class from ’21/22 to grow alongside them.
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