Should Celtics Go All-In On Reported Trade Candidate Dejounte Murray?

The Spurs reportedly are listening to offers on Murray

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If the Boston Celtics truly want to make a splash to improve the group that just reached the NBA Finals, they should be kicking the tires on San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray.

The Spurs are listening to trade offers for the 25-year-old Murray, according to multiple reports. The Hawks have emerged as the frontrunner to land Murray with Atlanta reportedly willing to offer at least three first-round picks. Additional reports have noted it could take four first-rounders to acquire Murray. The Celtics have not yet been tied to Murray.

Sure, that’s a lot to give up, but the Celtics do have it. Boston has its first-round picks from 2023 to 2027. The Celtics also have a handful of second-rounders in the next NBA draft. If the Celtics do acquire Murray and things go as expected, the fact that San Antonio doesn’t want any protections on those picks shouldn’t be a major hold up. After all, the Celtics currently look like a team that will be picking outside of the lottery (maybe outside the top 25?) for much of the next decade. Maybe three firsts and a young player — Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith — gets it done?

One of the biggest reasons for acquiring Murray is because the Celtics have the finances to take him into their $17.1 million trade exception. Murray has two years left on his very reasonable four-year, $64 million contract. He is set to earn just shy of $16.6 million for the 2022-23 campaign before being owed $17.7 million the next year. Murray is set to become a free agent entering his age-28 campaign.

The 2016 first-rounder would greatly improve the Celtics in the short term. Murray is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard who averaged career bests across the board — 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds — during his fifth season in the league. He is not a knockdown 3-point shooter (33% in his career) but would give the Celtics another scorer and key defensive piece that is able to fit in a switch-happy scheme.

Murray, who earned his first NBA All-Star selection in 2021-22, was named Second Team All-Defense in 2017-18 and was the league’s steals leader last season while averaging 2.0 per game. He was snubbed of being an All-Defense selection despite leading the league in the category.

The youthful Spurs guard would provide the up-and-coming Celtics with an added facilitator and scorer, which president of basketball operations Brad Stevens acknowledged were a few specific needs. Murray’s arrival would allow Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to play more off the ball while the backcourt depth would include Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Murray’s former San Antonio teammate Derrick White. The potential starting lineup of Murray, Smart, Brown, Tatum and Robert Williams? Yeah, good luck with that.

Additionally, Murray is no stranger to Celtics second-year head coach Ime Udoka, who served on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio during Murray’s first three years in the league.

Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck and Stevens both acknowledged earlier this month that if team is a title contender, then the owners will spend. Well, that’s exactly where the reigning Eastern Conference champions find themselves, and sometimes spending can be done in more ways than one.

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