Sixers named as potential suitor for Hawks’ Dejounte Murray
With the NBA trade deadline about a month away, the rumor mill has reached a stage of perpetual activity. As such, the Sixers, who have a surplus of expiring contracts and draft equity from the James Harden trade, are commonly mentioned as a team of interest as some of the league's top players become available.
The latest rumor linked Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray to Philadelphia.
"Teams that have reached out about [Murray], Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers are a few of the teams out of many," league insider Chris Haynes said at Bleacher Report on Friday.
"What I will say about the Philadelphia 76ers, they're going to be patient. They're not going to rush and do anything. This offseason, they have the opportunity to have ample cap space to bring in another star. So, they're not going to be rushed by any means."
"As it pertains to the Philadelphia 76ers, I don't believe that Dejounte Murray is their number-one target. But, he is a player of interest," Haynes later added.
A league source echoed to 97.3 ESPN what has been reported often recently: the Hawks have clearly signaled they are in a position to move on from multiple players, including Dejounte Murray. The fit in Atlanta, next to Trae Young, has been insufficient in accomplishing what the Hawks had hoped.
Sources did not entirely rule out the possibility, but characterized a Murray-to-Philadelphia deal as "unlikely". They specifically reasoned that the fit next to prized guard Tyrese Maxey would raise questions.
Murray has seen his role vacillate between extremes since establishing himself as a starter in the NBA. In his last season with the San Antonio Spurs, the ball was always in his hands. As a bigger guard tasked with most of the team's creation duties, he regularly flirted with triple-doubles and registered an all-star berth in that final season in Texas.
Since being traded to the Hawks, Murray's job has changed quite dramatically. He is now the off-ball partner in the backcourt with Trae Young. Murray has certainly gotten better as a perimeter shooter, but he doesn't take enough of those shots for the output to be meaningful.
He's at his best when he controls the game as the offensive engine, and he prefers to operate in the midrange. While I do think it would be good for Maxey to get some off-ball reps for the sake of lightening his workload in the regular season, the Sixers already profile as a team that takes inefficient shots because of Joel Embiid's mastery in the midrange. Introducing a guard who prefers that level of the floor as the third piece of the core wouldn't be conducive to the Sixers being their best selves on offense in the modern NBA.
Murray's size and length make him an ideal candidate to share the backcourt with Maxey on the defensive end, but his reputation as a defensive player exceeds the actual play. So, if the defense isn't all it's made up to be and the offensive fit is questionable, the conversation then becomes how much better are you - if at all - with Murray in De'Anthony Melton's place.
Sure, you have another creator and certainly a more dynamic weapon on offense than Melton can offer. But, Melton takes the shots you want an off-ball guard to take, and, just as important, the ball mostly stays in Maxey's hands.
The thought of sacrificing the team's newfound depth in favor of a big swing is something that weighs on the franchise's decision-makers, according to a league source.
That isn't to say that Philadelphia would prefer a different direction as they evaluate moves ahead of February 8. Rather, they want to be sure that that big swing is an absolute hit. So, if using some of their treasure to add a big piece actually raises questions, that isn't something that sources feel is desirable to the Sixers right now.
The Sixers expect to continue to be mentioned as a team of interest as trade talks continue to brew. Such is natural at this juncture of the season. But, a source familiar with Philadelphia's side of things characterized the likelihood of being involved in a deal for Zach LaVine or Pascal Siakam as "unlikely", as well.
With a month to go, things are just getting started - not just for the Sixers, but for the whole league.
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