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Trade conversations mood from Thursday night’s NBA draft have brought a long list of veteran players into the forefront of the early offseason, where Jerami Grant, John Collins, Rudy Gobert, OG Anunoby and upcoming free agents like Jalen Brunson and Deandre Ayton have dominated chatter among league executives.
A new name to emerge in various trade discussions on Wednesday: San Antonio Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, whose cryptic eye emoji tweet set the internet ablaze on Tuesday.
The Spurs are fielding offers for Murray and have told multiple interested teams it would take a “Jrue Holiday-like package” for San Antonio to part with the 25-year-old floor general, setting a rough benchmark of three first-round picks for any suitor to pry murray free.
San Antonio’s most significant discussions regarding Murray have seemed to occur with the Atlanta Hawks, in a framework that would send Collins back to the Spurs, league sources told B/R. San Antonio and Atlanta have kicked around that deal concept at least dating back to the February trade deadline. Atlanta, among other offseason goals, has explored various options to add a dynamic ball-handler and defensive partner alongside Trae Young in the Hawks’ backcourt, sources said. Ironically, the first indications of Atlanta’s efforts to find a superior teammate for Young in the Hawks’ guard rotation were when New Orleans made Holiday available back in 2020.
Other teams currently known to be aggressively searching for point guards are the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards, while the Minnesota Timberwolves have actively explored the market for D’Angelo Russell trade scenarios, sources told B/R.
Murray is coming off an exceptional year in San Antonio, where he earned his first All-Star nod and flirted with season-long averages of a triple-double: 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. But there’s a sense among NBA executives that San Antonio is still open to an extended rebuild, and Murray’s inevitably expensive contract extension is already looming on the horizon. His current four-year, $64 million deal is set to expire in 2024, and Murray is expected to command a maximum salary in line with his current production and skill progression.
For Collins, Atlanta’s known motivation to move the talented forward has swirled around the league, with San Antonio, Sacramento and Utah—in a potential swap for Gobert—considered the most legitimate potential landing spots for the 24-year-old. Portland’s Wednesday night acquisition of Grant from the Detroit Pistons, and the Trail Blazers’ priority of dealing the No. 7 pick for Anunoby, would seem to make Portland a less likely destination for Collins, despite frequent trade conversations between the Blazers’ and Hawks’ front offices.
DEANDRE AYTON TO DETROIT?
The other instant ripple effect from Detroit trading Grant to Portland is the sudden wealth of financial flexibility now facing the Pistons’ front office. Detroit has been linked as a potential bogeyman to steal Deandre Ayton, Mitchell Robinson, Miles Bridges, Jalen Brunson and Collin Sexton in free agency.
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While the Pistons can’t possibly swipe all of those aforementioned players, Detroit is now projected to have upward of $50 million in cap space, with the expectation that the Pistons pick up team options for Hamidou Diallo and Luka Garza.
Detroit always appeared to be the biggest threat to offer Ayton the maximum salary he and his representatives so clearly covet. Despite Portland’s rumored interest, the Trail Blazers are widely expected to retain starting center Jusuf Nurkic. Atlanta brass have their hands in various other cookie jars, including Gobert. San Antonio has been frequently mentioned as an Ayton suitor as well.
Now, the Pistons could feasibly spend that $30-plus million for Ayton’s big payday and still chase other free agents they covet. A sign-and-trade with Jerami Grant had long been mentioned by league personnel as a potential mechanism to get Ayton to the Pistons.
But even before Grant was moved to Portland, Suns officials had started messaging to rival teams and other external league personnel that Phoenix won’t necessarily balk at matching any offer sheet for Ayton, sources told B/R. With no obvious sign-and-trade piece to send back to the Suns, it’s unclear whether Detroit will have an unencumbered pursuit of Ayton on the restricted free-agent market.
POINT GUARD CAROUSEL
Should New York ultimately fall short in its efforts to lure Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks, Malcolm Brogdon is widely expected to be the Knicks’ next point guard target this offseason, sources told B/R, not the splashier headline name that is Kyrie Irving .
The Pacers have most consistently discussed Brogdon trades with the Knicks and Wizards ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft, sources said, but there’s a strong sense of skepticism from league officials that Brogdon would actually be moved to either Washington or New York in a package centered around the no. 10 or no. 11 pick.
The Wizards have been willing to discuss Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in trade conversations, sources said. New York is exploring all options pertaining to Alec Burks, Evan Fournier, Nerlens Noel, Kemba Walker and Cam Reddish.
Other veteran ball-handlers said to be available for trade, in addition to the aforementioned Murray and Russell, are Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley, Charlotte’s Terry Rozier, Pelicans point guard Devonte’ Graham, along with Nuggets table-setter Monte Morris.
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- The market for Pacers center Myles Turner is said to feature Minnesota, Toronto and Charlotte. New York has long registered interest in Turner as well, but the Knicks are only considered to be a serious Turner suitor if Mitchell Robinson departs in free agency.
- Philadelphia has continued to explore Tobias Harris trade packages. The Sixers have called a healthy portion of teams to gauge the value for each of Harris, Danny Green and Matisse Thybulle, sources said, and have called several teams specifically searching for a first-round pick in exchange for Thybulle as part of a three- team deal framework to land an impact veteran rotation player.
- Indiana, Utah, Boston and Detroit have all been described as teams looking to acquire picks in the back half of the first round.
- To do so, the Celtics appear willing to engage in conversations on rotation players like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, but only for the right price.
- Utah is searching for a first-round pick to move any non-Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert rotation player. Royce O’Neale has registered a bevy of trade interest from around the league.
- Phoenix has called rivals to measure Jae Crowder’s value on the trade market, sources said, while the Suns have been linked once again to Eric Gordon. Phoenix held discussions with Houston to acquire Gordon, a former teammate of Chris Paul with the Rockets, back at February’s trade deadline. Phoenix is also said to be searching for a second-round selection.
- Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic remains a hot name on the trade market. OKC holds his draft rights, and Nikola Jokic has been said to be a driving factor in Denver’s interest to obtain the EuroLeague MVP. San Antonio, Milwaukee and Chicago have also been mentioned as legitimate suitors.
Jake Fischer covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.