Should Atlanta Have Traded For Rudy Gobert Instead of Dejounte Murray Two Years Ago?

Oct 30, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) and Atlanta
Oct 30, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) and Atlanta / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, the Atlanta Hawks found themselves wanting to make a big splash in the offseason. They were coming off of a disappointing season where they finished as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and lost to the Miami Heat in five games. Just one year after making the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta was wanting to make a big move that summer to try and upgrade their roster.

There were three players that would be traded that summer and there was speculation about who Atlanta would make a move for. Dejounte Murray was a potential trade chip for the Spurs and the Utah Jazz appeared to be heading towards a rebuild after Quin Snyder stepped down as head coach. Both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were in trade rumors and there was speculation over whether Atlanta would be interested in either of them.

Atlanta made the first big move that summer by trading for Murray for a big package of draft picks:

Hawks receive:

• Dejounte Murray
• Jock Landale

Spurs receive: 

• Danilo Gallinari
• 2023 first-round pick (via Charlotte from New York, protected)
• 2025 first-round pick
• 2026 pick swap
• 2027 first-round pick

Just a few days later, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a huge trade for Gobert, sending back an even bigger package than Atlanta sent for Murray:

Timberwolves receive:

• Rudy Gobert

Jazz receive:

• Malik Beasley
• Patrick Beverley
• Leandro Bolmaro
• Walker Kessler (No. 22 pick in 2022 Draft)
• Jarred Vanderbilt
• 2023 first-round pick
• 2025 first-round pick
• 2026 pick swap
• 2027 first-round pick
• 2029 first-round pick

Cleveland would trade for Mitchell in September.

After last season, it seemed like neither Atlanta or Minnesota made a smart trade. Atlanta fired head coach Nate McMillan in February and replaced him with Gobert's former coach Quin Snyder. Snyder got the Hawks to the No. 7 seed after a play-in tournament win over Miami and then Atlanta lost in six games vs the Boston Celtics, in a much closer series than most anticipated. Minnesota was also in the play-in tournament and they ended up getting the No. 8 seed and losing to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets. The Cavaliers also had a first round exit vs the New York Knicks. After all three teams took big swings that summer, they all had disappointing results and had uncertain futures.

This season was totally different though.

The Timberwolves were one of the best teams in the NBA all season and just finished off sweeping the Phoenix Suns in the first round, winning their first playoff series since 2004. They have had the best defense in the NBA all season and Gobert is the favorite to win his fourth defensive player of the year.

Meanwhile, the Hawks lost in the play-in tournament to the Chicago Bulls and had a very disappointing season. There are already talks of breaking up the backcourt duo of Trae Young and Murray, just two years after making the big trade.

I think it is worth revisiting the big summer trades that were made and wonder if the Hawks should have pushed harder for a Gobert trade instead of trading for Murray.

On one hand, I still think you can argue that Minnesota gave up too much for Gobert. While they did win their series vs Phoenix and Gobert is likely going to win another defensive player of the year award, Minnesota is devoid of any assets to trade in the future, unless they decided to move Karl-Anthony Towns at some point to try and get some picks. I think you can say that the only way the trade pays off is if Minnesota wins a title.

Still, their results are far better than what Atlanta has been able to produce with Young and Murray.

It has become clear that the Young and Murray backcourt is not working and the Hawks were shopping Murray at the trade deadline before opting to just stay pat and ride the rest of the season out. Atlanta gave up a lot to get Murray and the results they have gotten have not matched what Gobert has done in Minnesota.

Should Atlanta have pushed harder for a Gobert trade?

The Hawks were rumored to be interested in acquiring Gobert that summer, pairing one of the NBA's best offensive players (Young) with the best defensive player in the league (Gobert). The points made against a potential Gobert deal were that while he would raise the Hawks ceiling in the regular season, he would not get them back to the conference finals or to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. The cost would not be worth getting a little better in the regular season.

While there is not guarantee that the Hawks would have won a playoff series or got back to the conference finals, this team would have been better off trading for Gobert. Yes, the Hawks have had Clint Capela, but he is not anywhere near the level of player that Gobert is. The Hawks would not have had the worst defense in the NBA like they had this year and Atlanta is likely still playing if they make this trade.

Still, I think it is fair to question the ceiling of a team with Gobert and Young. It would have come down to the Hawks other decisions that they made to surround the roster with talent and that has been something that the front office has not shown they can do.

The Hawks are heading towards one of their most crucial offseasons in recent memory. One of Young or Murray seems likely to be traded and the team might look a lot different in August. One has to wonder if they would be facing the same kind of results if they had chosen to take a different path two summers ago and made a trade for Rudy Gobert.

Jackson Caudell


Jackson Caudell covers the Atlanta Hawks and Georgia Tech Athletics for FanNation