In-depth look into potential Dejounte Murray-D’Angelo Russell trade
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Trade rumors continue to swirl as the Lakers stand at 24-24 and 9th in the Western Conference. A name linked to the Lakers is Hawks star guard Dejounte Murray.
As it stands, a Lakers trade for Murray seems unlikely. Russell has been on a tear and the front office is reluctant to trade him. Hawks head coach Quin Snyder is "lobbying for the Hawks to keep Murray."
However, there was a previously discussed framework between LA and Atlanta.
The framework would send Murray to the LakeShow for Russell, Jalen Hood-Schifino, a 2029 first-round pick, and a pick swap. However, the holdup for a deal is finding a third team to take on Russell and the Lakers' reluctance to do the deal given Russell's recent play. The Hawks don’t view Russell as a fit next to their star guard Trae Young.
Lakers receive: Dejounte Murray
Hawks receive: Jalen Hood-Schifino, 2029 first-round pick, a first-round pick swap, and assets from third team
Third team receives: D'Angelo Russell
A team that could come in as a third team is the Brooklyn Nets. It would be Russell’s second stint with the Nets, and he would be an upgrade for them at point guard. His shooting and playmaking would fit well alongside their star, Mikal Bridges.
Atlanta wants to find a 3rd team to take on D’Angelo Russell in order to complete a Dejounte Murray trade with the Lakers, per @ShamsCharania— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 22, 2024
“It centered around D’Angelo Russell, a 2029 first round draft pick, and a pick swap I’m told. The hold up was that Atlanta wanted to… pic.twitter.com/jVFvmlKw0Q
Russell recently praised the Nets coach after LA lost to Brooklyn, stating, “Obviously, Jacque Vaughn’s a hell of a coach. He’s drawing up sets and putting them in position to take advantage of any miscommunication or mishap on our end.”
To make this deal work, Brooklyn could send Spencer Dinwiddie's expiring contract to Atlanta, which would allow the Hawks to have cap flexibility in the offseason.
Through Russell’s play in December, it seemed almost certain he would be moved at the trade deadline. Russell averaged 10/2/6, shooting 40.9% from the floor and 31% from three. While it was a poor shooting month, he has turned it around completely in January.
Russell is averaging 24/2/6 on 50/47/83 shooting splits this month. This stretch of play makes it much more difficult to part with Russell, who is the best three-point shooter on the team and a good ball-handler.
The knock on Russell is opposing teams targeting him on the defensive end of the floor. He has also been a streaky offensive player, showcased by his drastic shift from December to January.
The question for Rob Pelinka and the front office is: Can Russell continue to play at this level consistently? That will be vital to determining whether a trade for Murray is worthwhile.
ANOTHER NIGHT, ANOTHER GAME WINNER FOR DEJOUNTE MURRAY 🤯🔥 pic.twitter.com/a0ZBmUkCEo— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) January 20, 2024
Looking at Murray, he is a better defender than Russell but has fallen off on that end of the floor this season compared to years prior. If he came to the Lakers, would he return the All-Defensive player he once was?
Regardless, Murray would be an upgrade on defense over Russell. Overall, Murray is averaging 21/5/5 on 47/39/83 shooting splits. The 27-year-old has been on fire of late, with two game-winners in the last couple of weeks.
With the players' production in mind, let’s break down the positives and negatives of a Murray trade.
Dejounte Murray is on a decent contract through moving forward. I imagine that’s part of the reason the Lakers like him. pic.twitter.com/a7tNTptci9— Laker Central (@LakerCentral365) January 22, 2024
Positives of trading for Murray:
Murray is a better all-around player than Russell. Their scoring production is pretty even, but a lot of it falls on opportunity, as Murray is the number two option in Atlanta compared to Russell being the third or lower option in LA.
With comparable scoring and playmaking, Murray would be an upgrade on the defensive end of the floor and as a rebounder.
Another positive in trading for Murray is his contract length. Murray is under contract for the next four seasons, with a player option for the fifth season. It is a reasonable deal, ranging from 25-30 million annually after this season.
On the other hand, Russell has a player option at the end of this season, meaning he could opt out and become a free agent. That is a concern that the Lakers should note.
That being said, let’s examine the negatives of trading for Murray.
Negatives of trading for Murray:
The negative of trading for Murray is it would be a midseason deal. Without a whole training camp to get familiar with the team, it would be a quick transition for Murray. However, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work.
The difference would be Russell already has established chemistry with the roster, while Murray would have to find his role and chemistry with the team.
Another question is Murray’s three-point shooting. He is having a breakout season from distance, shooting at a 39% clip. However, for his career, Murray is a 35% shooter from three, which is below the league average.
The Lakers would be losing a proven shooter in Russell, who’s shooting 42% from deep this season and 37% for his career.
Russell may be a better fit for the roster given his elite shooting ability.
D'Angelo Russell: "Just having fun. That's what we all dreamed of doing. Growing up, you practice moves and try things in your backyard...Never thought I would be able to throw a bounce pass lob to LeBron James."— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 22, 2024
34 PTS (14/21 FG) | 8 AST | 6 3PT | 0 TO pic.twitter.com/yE3BdANzmX
The big concern in this deal is the draft capital and young talent. The first-round pick in 2029 could be very valuable, and a pick swap could end up with LA having to give up a higher pick.
They may also have to throw in rookie guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. Although Hood-Schifino has struggled this season, he was the 17th overall pick and could be developed into a solid point guard.
Pelinka and the front office need to examine the positives and negatives of doing a deal for Murray. With the way Russell is playing, it's unlikely they move him. He has great chemistry with the roster, and there are other avenues for the Lakers to improve at the trade deadline.
It will be interesting to see the direction the LakeShow takes at the trade deadline.