This season hasn’t been the struggle-free run that some San Antonio Spurs fans might have naively hoped for, but seeing Delete Murray showing off at All-Star Weekend was almost worth it. Murray has been one of the most dominant two-way players in the NBA this season, and he’s set his peers and casual fans on their toes with his impressive play and showmanship in the All-Star Game.
Spurs have had All-Stars on their team for the past five years, but somehow seeing DJ make the All-Star match seemed to mean more to Spurs fans than when LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard were selected. Aldridge had come to San Antonio as an established star and had already played in several All-Star games in his career. Leonard was a Finals MVP before he was an All-Star and seemed destined to make the game. It was never a sure thing for Murray.
From late first-round pick to All-Star, Murray’s rise to San Antonio has been one of the most enjoyable storylines to follow as a fan of the team. He overcame every adversity thrown at him along the way and continued to grow as a player and a leader. He is the face of the franchise. But does that mean he should be permanently removed from any potential future roles?
At first glance, this may seem like a silly question. Murray just made his first All-Star game, is just starting to hit his peak, and is one of the most versatile players in the league. Why would Spurs want to trade him?
The simple fact is that there are very few players in the league who are truly untradeable. Think of perennial MVP candidates such as Giannis, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Steph Curry. And even these guys can force a trade if they really want to.
But for better or worse, Spurs have always done things differently. Sure, they may have shaken things up at the trade deadline this year to put themselves in a position to reshape their squad this summer, but don’t expect that to become the new norm. Brian Wright is no Daryl Morey and I would be amazed to see him go out of his way to buy his star player, even if it might bring someone better in return.
There’s a fundamental difference between being the face of the franchise and being the best player on your team. Chris Paul may be the Phoenix Suns’ best player, but Devin Booker is the face of the franchise. When Kevin Durant was at Golden State, he was the Warriors’ best player, but there was no doubt who the face of the franchise was. In San Antonio, DJ is clearly the man the Spurs are putting their chips behind. He is that guy. And players like that are rarely traded.
Dejounte’s role at San Antonio is made even more crucial by his place in Spurs history. He is the last survivor of the era of the Big Three, the last man on the team to have really played with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. He has been a constant presence over the last few years of soul-searching and realignment that Spurs have had to go through. That’s the kind of experience the organization is going to need both on the pitch and in the dressing room if this rebuild is going to be successful.
So, is Dejounte definitely out of Spurs’ trading block? Kind of. If the Milwaukee Bucks called offering a one-for-one trade for Giannis, I’d expect Murray to be on the next flight out of San Antonio. But other than that – yeah, get used to seeing Dejounte in a Spurs uniform.
He’s the face of the organization now and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.