Dejounte Murray

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Rockets, Spurs, Terry, Grizzlies

People around the NBA believe there’s a good chance the Pelicans will move the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft in a deal that would bring back veteran help, says Zach Harper of The Athletic.

New Orleans already has a young roster and is expected to shop veterans like Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams this offseason in order to create more cap flexibility. Moving Bledsoe and/or Adams would make the roster even younger, perhaps making the Pelicans even less inclined to add another rookie to the mix.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Within his latest mock draft, Harper also says there’s a belief the Rockets have been “fixated” on Cade Cunningham, but are likely unwilling to pay Detroit what it would take to move up to No. 1. Additionally, sources tell Harper that people around the league believe Spurs guards Dejounte Murray and Derrick White could be “gettable” in trades.
  • Mavericks guard Tyrell Terry was away from the team for nearly two months during his rookie season for personal reasons. Asked this week about that situation, Terry declined to offer any details, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News writes. “I had something to deal with personally that I needed to take care of in order for me to come back and be the best version of myself,” Terry said. “The Mavericks were very helpful and supportive in that time.”
  • The Grizzlies could have between $20-25MM in cap room this offseason. With that in mind, Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal considers which veteran free agents might make sense as targets for the team.

Texas Notes: Murray, Gordon, House, Samanic

Defensive-oriented young Spurs guard Dejounte Murray overcame a tough upbringing to make the NBA and become a key part of San Antonio’s future, writes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated in an extremely detailed profile.

Pina notes that Murray’s offensive game is a bit of a throwback, as he, like his Spurs teammate DeMar DeRozan, favors jump-shooting from the midrange over the three-point shooting that has overtaken shot profiles league-wide.

“This is my first year in the NBA being free to just, you know, play,” Murray said. “(Spurs) Coach (Gregg Popovich), he let me off the leash a little bit.

“As far as carrying the legacy on, the winning culture, yeah, I think I’m responsible for that,” Murray added. “I’m part of it. It’s a team game, but I’m a natural-born leader.” At 33-36, the Spurs currently occupy the tenth seed in the Western Conference, and are in position to appear in the play-in tournament.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, absent with a groin injury since March 11, will not rejoin the team for its final two games of the 2020/21 season, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle“Eric was doing everything he could to come back, working out with [assistant coach John Lucas] and working out with the performance team,” head coach Stephen Silas said. “Although I would have loved to see Eric play, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.” 
  • Rockets small forward Danuel House has been able to showcase his versatile game beyond just being a reliable long-range sniper during an otherwise frustrating Houston season, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The official Spurs injury report ahead of tonight’s Knicks game indicates that second-year power forward Luka Šamanić has fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand, tweets Paul Garcia of Project Spurs.

Southwest Notes: Curry, Mavs, Murray, Ball, Pelicans

Seth Curry played a key role in the Sixers‘ win over the Mavericks on Thursday, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and recording a plus-17 rating in his 29 minutes. Asked after the game if playing against the team that traded him away in the fall provided any extra motivation, Curry responded with a smile.

“Nah, never nothing personal, man,” the Sixers guard said, per Jordan Greer of Sporting News. “I got a lot of respect for a lot of those guys over there (with the Mavericks). I just think they made a bad business decision, but it happens all the time, you know what I’m saying? It is what it is.”

Curry’s ability to knock down 3-pointers has been crucial this season for the Sixers, who weren’t getting that same floor spacing from Josh Richardson. Curry has made a career-best 46.8% of his attempts from beyond the arc this season, while Richardson has a career-worst .301 3PT% for the Mavericks.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs guard Dejounte Murray was hit with a $25K fine by the NBA for kicking the game ball into the stands at the end of the team’s loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the league announced in a press release.
  • After getting off to a slow start this season, Lonzo Ball has played well in his past 20 games, creating a difficult decision for the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Moving Ball before the trade deadline would open up more minutes for youngsters Kira Lewis and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and would allow New Orleans to avoid paying Ball in restricted free agency, but it would also mean moving on from an improving 23-year-old point guard who has developed good chemistry with franchise player Zion Williamson.
  • Speaking of Williamson, Clark notes in a separate NOLA.com story that the partnership between the former No. 1 overall pick and Pelicans teammate Brandon Ingram has come a long way. “Our relationship off the court has always been there,” Williamson said. “It’s never been a problem with that. I think when it came to on the court, we wanted to learn each other and certain parts of the game. Now, we just kind of know.”

Spurs Notes: Poeltl, Weatherspoon, White, Murray, Vassell

Center Jakob Poeltl has been one of the league’s best shot blockers since moving into the Spurs‘ starting lineup five games ago, writes Tom Orsborne of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl is averaging 2.8 blocks per game, third in the NBA during that stretch, while filling in for LaMarcus Aldridge, who is dealing with a hip flexor.

“He’s very solid,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He knows where to be on the court. He works really hard on the boards, protecting the rim, he runs the floor. He’s just done an excellent job, and mostly been very consistent.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Reserve guard Quinndary Weatherspoon has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Orsborn adds in a separate story. It’s not clear if Weatherspoon has tested positive for COVID-19 or is merely inactive due to contact tracing, so his quarantine time is uncertain. Drew Eubanks is the only other Spurs player to have gone through the protocols, although assistant coach Becky Hammon and an unidentified staffer were required to quarantine last month.
  • The Spurs’ backcourt of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray has become one of the best defensive pairings in the league, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News. Popovich has experimented with the roles for his young guards and hasn’t always started them together. White was a starter in only 20 of 68 games last season and didn’t start alongside Murray until the season resumed in Orlando. “They are great on defense together,” Poeltl said. “I think we are very, very versatile when we have both those guys out there on defense. It’s really helping us.”
  • First-round pick Devin Vassell has already played more minutes than any Spurs rookie since Kawhi Leonard nine years ago, McDonald notes in a separate story. Vassell is leading the team in steals at 1.1 per game and is shooting 40.3% from 3-point range. “One thing about him, he has instincts,” Rudy Gay said. “He showed that from Day 1. You can go out there in any situation, and he’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Hawks Rumors: Holiday, No. 6 Pick, Haliburton, Okongwu

Following up on Wednesday’s report linking the Hawks to Jrue Holiday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic explains in further detail why he’s hearing that Atlanta currently isn’t a probable landing spot for the Pelicans guard.

According to Kirschner, there’s a belief that if Atlanta pursued Holiday, it would take the No. 6 overall pick and two young players. The Hawks aren’t interested in giving up that substantial a package for a 30-year-old on an expiring contract, even if Holiday would be a great fit next to Trae Young in the backcourt.

The Hawks could still be involved in a three-team deal where Holiday goes to another team, and could even emerge as a viable landing spot for Holiday if the Pelicans’ asking price drops, says Kirschner. However, a trade that sees the club giving up two young players isn’t being considered.

Here’s more on the Hawks from Kirschner:

  • Kirschner also addressed trade rumors related to the No. 6 pick, writing that if the draft were today, Atlanta would be prepared to make that selection rather than moving it. He also clarifies that the rumored Timberwolves proposal for the No. 6 pick – which includes the No. 17 pick and Jarrett Culver – is an offer Minnesota has put on the table for multiple teams.
  • Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, and Onyeka Okongwu look like the Hawks’ most likely targets if the club remains at No. 6, though Avdija may be off the board by then, Kirschner writes. If Haliburton and Okongwu are available, Kirschner thinks Atlanta would probably lean toward the former Iowa State guard.
  • Kirschner wonders if the Spurs, who own the No. 11 pick, might be a potential trade partner for Atlanta. Kirschner believes the Hawks would be interested in moving down if they could acquire a young player like Derrick White or Dejounte Murray, though I’m skeptical San Antonio would give up either player to move up five spots. Because Atlanta would prefer a young player whose timeline matches up with the current core, veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are probably unlikely targets, Kirschner adds.

Southwest Notes: Mbah A Moute, Rivers, Porzingis, Spurs

Speaking today to reporters for the first time since reporting to the NBA’s campus and clearing quarantine, Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute confirmed that his arrival was delayed because he had contracted the coronavirus, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Mbah a Moute signed with the Rockets on July 7 as a substitute player replacing Thabo Sefolosha, but didn’t arrive in Orlando until last Wednesday. According to Feigen, Mbah a Moute said today that he dealt with “chills (and) body ache” while battling COVID-19, adding that the recovery was “tough.”

Meanwhile, Mbah a Moute’s teammate Austin Rivers hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus, but remains quarantined in his hotel room after briefly leaving the Orlando campus last week. Rivers, who returned on Saturday, is scheduled to complete his four-day quarantine period on Tuesday and should be ready to go for the Rockets’ first seeding game this Friday vs. Dallas, Feigen writes for The Chronicle.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was held out of Sunday’s scrimmage because he missed a mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday, though head coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t overly upset by the mistake, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “This situation was one where he just took his eye off the ball a little bit in terms of the day-to-day protocols and procedures,” Carlisle said. “It can be challenging on off days to keep track of the schedule. I almost missed testing on our first off day. … It’s an innocent mistake, but it’s significant.”
  • Trey Burke just signed with the Mavericks on July 1 and was late arriving to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, but he believes his experience playing for Carlisle in 2018/19 will help him quickly adjust, Sefko writes at Mavs.com. “I feel comfortable, rather than other places coming into a new place and it’s a brand new system and a brand new coaching staff,” Burke said. “I pretty much know the pace that coach likes to play with, I know how hard he can be on guys and I’m ready for that.”
  • With LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles sidelined for the summer, the Spurs are experimenting with some guard-heavy lineups, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. One unit, which features recent first-rounders Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker playing alongside each other, could be a preview of the club’s future backcourt, McDonald notes.

Southwest Notes: Murray, J. Jackson, Iguodala, Ball

After missing the entire 2018/19 season due to an ACL tear, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray began the 2019/20 campaign on a minutes restriction and then was removed from the starting lineup. However, head coach Gregg Popovich didn’t necessarily view that move as a demotion — the team believed that removing the responsibilities of running the first-team offense might allow Murray to play a “freer, more instinctual game,” writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News.

While Murray’s play for the second unit has been up and down, he had one of his best games of the season last Friday in a Spurs win over Sacramento, with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three steals in 32 minutes. That last number may be the most important of the bunch, as it suggests Murray’s minutes restriction is no longer in effect. With no more nightly cap on his playing time, Murray is eager to show what he can do.

“I know it takes time,” the Spurs’ guard said. “There was the minute restriction, a lot of stuff going on. It is what it is. I’m going to bust my tail, continue to work, continue to learn. I’m just ready to be unleashed.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • After being held out of Monday’s game, Josh Jackson once again won’t play for the Memphis Hustle on Wednesday, the Grizzlies announced today (via Twitter). Jackson, who reportedly missed a team meeting, has essentially received a two-game suspension for violating team rules.
  • What sort of trade options might the Grizzlies have for Andre Iguodala? Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian takes a deep dive and explores several hypothetical scenarios, labeling the Mavericks as Memphis’ most logical trade partner and the Nuggets and Raptors as possible wild cards.
  • Lonzo Ball was one of the key pieces acquired by the Pelicans in their blockbuster trade with the Lakers over the summer, and New Orleans is doing all it can to get the most out of the former No. 2 overall pick. Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com takes a closer look at how the Pelicans have worked on rebuilding Ball’s jump shot.

Western Notes: Murray, Iguodala, Roberson

Dejounte Murray has come off the bench for the Spurs recently and the point guard says that he’s not stressing over his role.

“I am just here to play basketball, man,” Murray said when asked how he’s handling coming off the bench (via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News). “Try to be a great teammate. And on the basketball end, play as great as I can on both ends of the floor and just compete.”

Murray was set to enter the 2018/19 season as the starting point guard before suffering a knee injury that cost him the season. Derrick White stepped up as the starter last year and coach Gregg Popovich believes that inserting White into the starting lineup this season will help the team improve its game.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

Southwest Notes: Jackson, Murray, Walker, Ingram

After being traded to the Grizzlies in a salary-dump deal over the summer, former No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson had his 2020/21 rookie scale option turned down by his new team. However, Memphis isn’t giving up entirely on the 22-year-old, having sent him to the G League for an assignment with the Memphis Hustle to start the season. As David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays, Jackson is hoping the change of scenery will benefit him.

“I think this year we have a lot more structure (with the Grizzlies) as opposed to what we did in Phoenix,” Jackson said. “The team was just a little bit too young. And with that comes a lot of things that you don’t know, that you have to learn. Here I feel like we’ve got great guys in place as far as a coaching staff and training staff to kind of coach us a little bit more as to how to be a pro.”

The G League regular season will get underway a week from today, on November 8. Presumably, the Grizzlies plan on having Jackson stay with the Hustle through that date to ensure he’ll play regular minutes in live games. However, the team hasn’t publicly offered many specifics about its plan for the former Sun. And, as Cobb details, Jackson is somewhat in the dark as well.

“As of now, no specific benchmarks,” the Grizzlies forward said. “No timeline, either, of when or if I’ll be called up. Right now, it’s just all about putting in the work, getting better. That’s all I’m focusing on.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Coming off his torn ACL, newly-extended Spurs guard Dejounte Murray has been on a minutes restriction, playing between 22-24 minutes in each of the team’s four games so far. He’s looking forward to having that restriction lifted at some point, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).I love to hoop. I love to compete, so it is frustrating,” Murray said. “But like I said, it has nothing to do with me trusting them and trusting their plan or whatever they got for me. But, yeah, I am frustrated. I think about it a lot. I’m not going to lie.”
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was critical of second-year guard Lonnie Walker after Thursday’s loss, Orsborn tweets. I expect better effort, better awareness and a better attempt to take advantage of the minutes that he gets,” Popovich said of the 2018 first-rounder. “I thought he was non-competitive.”
  • In a conversation with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram spoke about his contract situation, being the subject of trade rumors last season, his reaction to being dealt, and his first impressions of New Orleans, among other topics.

Hollinger’s Latest: Aldridge, Murray, Prince

Former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger is now working for The Athletic, where he’ll have the opportunity to pass along under-the-radar cap- and contract-related notes from around the league. He did just that in a “Cap Geekery” column today, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Spurs have guaranteed LaMarcus Aldridge‘s full $24MM salary for the 2020/21 season, but Hollinger says the team has actually just moved up his guarantee date to January 1, 2020. Assuming Hollinger’s info is accurate, that means Aldridge’s ’20/21 salary won’t officially become guaranteed for a couple more months, which should effectively have the same result — it’s not as if San Antonio will release him before then.
  • According to Hollinger, Dejounte Murray‘s new extension with the Spurs includes three separate annual incentives worth a total of $1.5MM. Murray can earn those three bonuses if he posts a true shooting percentage of 58 or higher ($500K), makes at least 125 three-pointers in a season ($500K), and makes an All-Defense team ($500K). Those first two incentives would require him to become a significantly more effective shooter, but the All-Defense bonus may be more realistic — he has already made the team once.
  • Taurean Prince can earn a $334,375 annual bonus on his new contract with the Nets if the team posts a defensive rating of 105 or better in his minutes, per Hollinger. Prince can also receive another $334,375 annually if he attempts at least 7.6 three-pointers per 36 minutes and makes at least 41.5% of those tries, Hollinger adds. Prince’s extension reportedly maxes out at $29MM over two years.