The Hawks are entering a highly anticipated season. After a magical Eastern Conference Finals run, the club chose to run it back with basically the same squad. It didn’t go well.
The front office then went out and acquired Dejounte Murray in what was one of the biggest trades in franchise history. It created a buzz around the Hawks, but the season went disastrously.
Penny pinching Tony Ressler forced Travis Schlenk to move Kevin Huerter, which actively made the team worse after going “all in” with the DJM trade. Eventually, Schlenk would step down due to organizational dysfunction propelled by the Resslers. Shortly after, Nate McMillan would be relieved of his duties.
It seemed hopeless. Then, the Hawks somehow convinced Quin Snyder, who could’ve had pretty much any job he wanted, to come to Atlanta. There weren’t tangible improvements, but the feeling around the team was much better.
Coming into the offseason, there were several big decisions to be made, some of which are still pending. The Hawks finally moved John Collins and could still target another star, like Pascal Siakam. However, the most critical move was extending Dejounte Murray.
If the All-Star had walked next offseason in free agency just two years after the Hawks gave up a haul of draft picks, there would have been no coming back. It couldn’t have gone better. He signed a team-friendly contract extension that will pay him around $30 million per season, while lesser players like Fred VanFleet will earn more than $40 million per season.
It’s setting up to be a big season with Quin Snyder at the helm. Though there could be more moves coming down the pipe, as the roster stands, they should be a playoff team, and Murray is calling his shot, sharing via an Instagram story that this will be his best season yet.
The 26-year-old is coming off a campaign in which he averaged 20.5 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.3 rebounds while canning 34.4% of his three-point attempts — all of which is a tick lower than his career marks that came the season prior. In his last season with the Spurs, Murray averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, and 8.3 rebounds per game.
His first season with the Hawks went well, but he’s not satisfied. If Dejounte Murray can improve upon last year, Atlanta will become contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire