The Hawks are committed to fixing the defensive issues that held them back last season, and trading for Dejounte Murray is an important part of that effort, writes Aaron Wilson of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta paid a high price for Murray, sending three first-round picks and a future pick swap to the Spurs, but it landed a 26-year-old All-Star guard with a team-friendly contract.
Murray excelled at both ends of the court in San Antonio, averaging 21.1 points per game and leading the NBA in steals with 2.0 per night. He seems like an ideal backcourt partner for Trae Young and said he’s ready to set the defensive tone for his new teammates.
“Defense is about showing effort,” Murray said. “I will bring what I learned both as a leader and vocally as everyone buys in. Everyone has to buy in and push each other and seeing everyone showing up was good. Ready to go compete and earn my team’s trust in training camp.”
There’s more from Atlanta:
- Young was a strong advocate for acquiring Murray and he believes they can succeed together, per Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. In four NBA seasons, Young has never played alongside another guard with Murray’s defensive skills. “It’s hard to point out what he’s great at, but he’s good at everything — like defense, scoring, passing, rebounding,” Young said. “I mean, he’s really good at everything. So just having somebody who’s going to be just as dependent as I am in the backcourt, which is going to be the fun, I can’t wait to get started.”
- Jalen Johnson looks forward to carving out a larger role after an offseason procedure to deal with tendinitis in his left knee, Williams adds in a separate story. The 20-year-old forward averaged just 5.5 minutes in 22 games as a rookie, and playing time may be even harder to come by with the offseason additions of Maurice Harkless and Frank Kaminsky. “He’s got to earn that opportunity,” coach Nate McMillan said. “He’s been here since August, and he’s working on doing that. He’s been playing and looking good. I thought last year, his play in the G League, he’s showing maturity and he’s showing some confidence and he’s looking forward to the challenge.”
- McMillan visited Young’s Oklahoma City home in June to talk about improving their communication for the upcoming season, according to Paul Newberry of The Associated Press. McMillan wants to see Young become more of a team leader on and off the court. “He’s the face of the franchise and it’s something that he has just inherited,” McMillan said. “He will have to work at it and become better.”