For about two decades, the San Antonio Spurs were a model franchise.
Thanks to the talents and skills of Tim Duncan, as well as a front office that always made sure he was surrounded with sufficient talent, the Spurs making the playoffs was about as much of a constant as extreme summertime heat and humidity in San Antonio.
But in 2017, it started to all come apart at the seams.
The team was coming off a 61-win season and a trip to the Western Conference Finals one year after Duncan retired, but its new superstar Kawhi Leonard, was traded in 2018, while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili also departed.
San Antonio somehow managed to sneak into the playoffs in 2019, but it hasn’t gotten there since.
With Dejounte Murray emerging as an All-Star this year, it seemed as if the Spurs may be emerging from irrelevancy, but Murray is reportedly on his way to the Atlanta Hawks now.
The Atlanta Hawks are trading Danilo Gallinari and multiple first-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2022
It means the Spurs will have to fully rebuild, and it may not be the smartest idea.
Losing A Major Piece
Murray is a 6-foot-4 guard who can seemingly do almost everything at a pretty high level.
After a slow start to his career, he put up 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game this year.
It is rare for any player, let alone a 25-year-old like him, to flirt with averaging a triple-double for an entire season.
Murray is an energetic, explosive and exciting player, and he would’ve been a nice man to build the next era of Spurs basketball around.
He is also an impact player on the defensive end, as evidenced by his league-leading 2.0 steals per contest this season.
A little preview of Dejounte Murray on the Hawks.
— HawksMuse (@HawksMuse) June 29, 2022
Since he is still very young, Murray can continue to improve certain aspects of his game, especially his 3-point shooting.
But now, with him heading eastbound for multiple draft picks, the Spurs will have to start almost from scratch, something they haven’t had to do since the late 1980s, when they drafted David Robinson to start their incredible run of consistency.
Why Are The Spurs Getting Rid Of Such A Good, Young Player?
At first glance, San Antonio jettisoning someone such as Murray may seem totally mindless.
But there is reportedly a reason why, even if it is very risky and questionable.
If the Spurs trade Dejounte Murray, they could be the first team signaling their intentions for the epic tank race for Victor Wembanyama.
Ironically enough, Spurs legend Tony Parker owns ASVEL, which is the team Wembanyama plays for.
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 27, 2022
Victor Wembanyama is a 7-foot-2 French center who is thought to be absolutely brimming with talent, and he is widely expected to become the top pick in next summer’s NBA Draft.
He is a great inside presence on both ends of the floor, and although his numbers weren’t impressive this season, he is just 18 years of age.
Tanking is an inexact science, and some look down on the practice, as it requires fans to put up with a poor product on the floor for a period of time.
It is also a huge gamble, as even the team with the NBA’s worst record has a much better chance of not landing the top pick in the draft.
But the Spurs have made their bed, and they will have to make the most of it now.NEXT: The Gregg Popovich Coaching Tree Continues To Take Over