Wednesday February 21st, 2024 1:16PM

Hawks hold onto Dejounte Murray, make no deal as GM Landry protects long-term interests

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks, allowing the most points per game in the NBA and struggling to remain above the cutoff line for the play-in tournament, surprised many by not making a move before Thursday's trade deadline.

There was much speculation the Hawks would consider a trade involving shooting guard Dejounte Murray, who joins Trae Young to give Atlanta a high-scoring backcourt that hasn't produced a winning record. General manager Landry Fields said Friday no offer fit the team's long-term goals.

“I think we’ll know when it’s time to move on from from players,” said Fields. “And we'll know when it’s time to bring in somebody new. But, obviously right now that wasn’t the time. This was not the time.”

Fields assumed control of daily operations when team president Travis Schlenk stepped down on Dec. 21, 2022. About two months later, Quin Snyder was hired as coach to replace the fired Nate McMillan.

The Hawks finished the 2022-23 season at 41-41, eighth in the Eastern Conference, and lost to Boston in the first round of the playoffs after escaping the play-in tournament. Atlanta took a 22-29 record into Friday night's game in Philadelphia and was 10th in the East, the final spot in the play-in tournament.

The Hawks have not won a playoff series since advancing to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals. Some observers believe Murray could have brought Atlanta a package, including first-round picks to make needed major tweaks to the roster.

Fields stressed he wasn't willing to sacrifice long-term goals for a possible short-term benefit.

“With any sort of concept that came in, it’s not just the short-term results or the short-term goals, I should say, that we’re interested in,” Fields said. “It’s long term.”

Murray, who agreed to a $120 million, four-year extension on July 7, 2023, remains part of the plan, at least through this season.

The Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans were among teams that reported interest in a deal involving Murray, who is averaging 21.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

Murray (6-5, 185) provided needed size and defense to take pressure off the high-scoring Young. But the Hawks' defense has remained a liability as Atlanta ranks last in the league, with its average of 124 points allowed.

Fields referred to “certain gains of the last few weeks” that provided encouragement to remain committed to the current roster.

The Hawks have only recently had forwards De'Andre Hunter and Jalen Johnson back on the floor together after each missed multiple weeks with injuries. Fields said “we’ve seen an uptick” from recent contributions from Johnson and forwards Onyeka Okongwu and Saddiq Bey.

“So all things considered, yeah, we ultimately decided that we weren’t going to do anything,” Fields said. “Could we have done something? Absolutely. But that would have been short-term results that we didn’t feel are going to benefit us for the long term.”

Fields said the Hawks could take another look at trade options following the season and the NBA draft. The team has a $25.3 million trade exception that was created when forward John Collins was traded to the Utah Jazz on June 26, 2023. The Hawks have until July 8 to use that exemption.

“We do have some time for that and it's an important tool, a helpful tool, as we go into the summer ... where we have these opportunities to externally change our team,” Fields said.

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