Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray tore his ACL and his 2018-19 season is over. Murray is the heir to Tony Parker. He is the reason that Parker went to the bench last year leaving Parker with no option other than to end his San Antonio career behind and sign with the Hornets. Murray is long and athletic but he is no Tony Parker. Last season, he averaged almost 9 points and 4 assists. He functions best playing the Popovich team game. He is a jack of all trades, a master of none. Still he will be missed, particularly his athleticism on a team with older players like Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol. Murray’s athleticism is one of his shining attributes. How ACL surgery will affect him going forward is a question mark but he’s only 22 years old.
It’s been bumpy for the Spurs ever since Zaza Pachulia injured Kawhi Leonard in the 2017 NBA playoffs. Leonard was never the same. Grumpy, salty, feelings wounded, he staged a palace coup and now he is north of the border. An iconic talent, Leonard wasn’t going to help the Spurs when he had checked out the marriage and so the Spurs turned the page.
The acquisition of DeMar DeRozan checked a lot of boxes. It gave the Spurs a scoring star. DeRozan was going to elevate the game and play of Murray as a backcourt tandem. Suddenly, the Spurs had an option late in games, other than LaMarcus Aldridge. DeRozan can drive the ball to the cup or he can drain a midrange. His defense, while not great, with the athleticism of Murray as a helper would fit into the Gregg Popovich box.
Gregg Popovich understood the moment.
“Devastating injury for him and the team but life goes on.”
The Spurs life is in flux in the back court. Patty Mills might slide into the starting role but he is undersized for the competition in the West. It may be point guard by committee and right about now they miss the veteran Parker so this all may be some kind of reverse karma.
But how about thinking outside the box and trying to see if the Wolves will bite. Why not offer Pau Gasol and a draft pick for Jimmy Butler. Gasol could back up Karl-Anthony Towns who the Wolves have already designated as face of the franchise. Gasol would give the Wolves the veteran presence they need and he has played for Thibs before and it is a mutual love affair.
The Spurs would get a rock solid defender with Butler and another 20-point scorer who would suddenly vault the Spurs into top-4 in the West convo. Butler, DeRozan, Aldridge are on par with Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams.
Dejounte Murray played his college ball in the Pacific Northwest, at Washington. He came out too soon. His freshman year, he didn’t make first team all-conference, partly because his shooting was hit or miss, 41% and 28% from three. He didn’t even make 70% of his free throws. While his offense has remained comatose in the pros, his defense is superb. Last season, he was the Spurs best perimeter defender. That is what they are really going to miss.
It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was talking about how magical the Spurs were, how lucky, how grace had anointed them because they did everything right. They drafted right. They traded right. They coached right. They competed right. In a span of two seasons, the Spurs have drifted towards normalcy and average. After Tim Duncan, it’s been rough.
The Dejounte Murray injury adds one more layer to a book the Spurs have to write against their will. Earlier, their rookie guard Lonnie Walker IV tore his medial meniscus.