Hawks’ Owner Ressler Talks Murray, Hunter, Expectations

After acquiring Dejounte Murray from San Antonio in a blockbuster trade that saw them give up three first-round picks (two unprotected) and a pick swap, the Hawks expect to be a playoff team and not just a play-in club in 2022/23, team owner Tony Ressler tells Jeff Schultz of The Athletic.

Ressler conducted separate one-on-one interviews with Schultz and Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the Murray trade, his expectations for the team, and a handful of other topics.

The Hawks’ owner stressed in both conversations that the team will have to wait to get to the 20- or 30-game mark to get a real sense of where it stands in the Eastern Conference, but Atlanta got off to a solid start on Wednesday with a 117-107 victory over Houston.

Here are a few of the more notable comments from Ressler’s two interviews, which overlap a little but are worth checking out in full:

On whether there was much internal debate over making the Murray trade:

“Yes, there was a lot of debate. Dejounte is a great player, and we gave up a lot to get him. There wasn’t debate about the quality of Dejounte and what he would bring to the Hawks. And now, our starting five, I think we have a good team. (Wednesday) was only one game, but it did say, ‘Hey, we have four guys who can give you 20 points any night.’ And if that’s an aberration, then we screwed up, but we don’t think it’s an aberration. We’re deeper and better than we were last year.”

On whether the Hawks felt like they were mortgaging their future and opening up a win-now window with the Murray deal:

“I try not to speak that way. That’s not good business talk. Good business talk is, ‘Is this a good trade for us now?’ Not, ‘We have to win now.’ As you point out, that’s a lot for any player, and it’s worthy of evaluation and discussion. After losing in the first round of the playoffs, we saw a lot of things we can do better, and we thought Dejounte would help us do many of those things. And we do still have some picks for the future, so we can still draft young players for the future. We’re not out of that part of the business.”

On why the Hawks felt comfortable signing De’Andre Hunter to a four-year extension worth at least $90MM:

“De’Andre has done everything well. He’s had some bad luck in his first three seasons, health-wise, whatnot, injury wise, but you know what, he’s a kid that can do everything. And he’s a great kid, he’s a great player, wants to get better. And for whatever it’s worth, we believe he’s getting better, continuing to get better and off a pretty high bar. So that’s a kid that you’re thrilled to have here. I actually think he complements the rest of our guys beautifully.”

On the desire to bring an NBA championship to Atlanta:

“Franchises that have won a championship or multiple championships I have grown to respect even more. This is my eighth season, and we still haven’t won a championship. I’m proud of the direction we’re moving in. But to be a great, top-tier NBA franchise, you must win a championship. Some people in our franchise are, ‘We won one in St. Louis.’ I don’t count that. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t born. I don’t give a f–k. Our job is to win a championship or multiple championships, and we’re not there, yet.”

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