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'I Wanted It': Dejounte Murray Opens Up About Trae Young, Spurs-Hawks Trade

Murray spoke with Hawks media Friday and got honest about the process leading up to the trade

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray remained cryptic on Twitter in the week leading up to the blockbuster trade that sent him and center Jock Landale to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for three first-round picks, a future draft swap, and forward Danilo Gallinari.

The emojis were flying everywhere. Popcorn emojis over a tweet centered around his trade rumors came after a trio of eyeballs were tweeted by the All-Star with seemingly no context. 

But now, the truth comes out. Murray, who thanked the Spurs for everything Wednesday, spoke with the Hawks media for the first time Friday and provided some juicy details about the process leading up to the trade, including his contact with Hawks star Trae Young. 

"We've actually been talking about two, three weeks," Murray said. "He pushed the needle and he wanted it as much as I wanted it, so this is going to be special. I think building that chemistry off the floor is most important." 

Murray, a defensive-minded guard with disruptive length, smooth athleticism, and a polished offensive game, is a interesting foil for Young, who has become one of the league's deadliest shooters off the dribble and from deep beyond the arc. 

One glaring similarity between the two guards is their playmaking ability, as both are elite in the pick-and-roll as the primary ball-handler. Last season, Young was third in the NBA in assists per game (9.7) while Murray was right behind him in fourth place (9.2).

Combining the two All-Stars immediately makes the Atlanta duo one of the league's best. Young's 737 total assists led the NBA last season, while Murray dominated in the defensive backcourt with a league-leading 138 steals. 

"Before, we talked about just us," Murray said. "It was more so like he wanna play with me, I want to play with him. We think it could be special. It was just a normal conversation. I've been knowing Trae since he was in high school and I was in high school - I'm a couple years older than him - but we've been knowing each other for a while."

"Obviously we weren't as close as we're about to get. It was just something we both wanted." 

The trade rumors first surfaced with a report from Bleacher Report the night before the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23. The speculation was that the Spurs would trade Murray in order to move up in the draft from the ninth-overall pick, something that didn't happen as San Antonio general manager Brian Wright used all three of his first-round picks. 

Rumors happen every offseason and few often prove to be true. Apparently, not even Young himself saw it coming. 

"He didn't believe it at first and I told him like 'it's gonna happen,'" Murray said. "And you know, when it happened, he called me excited ... I'm just thankful, grateful, and so excited to join him." 

While admitting he wanted to team up with Young, Murray also thanked the Spurs for having his best interest in heart. Not blind to the fact of the team’s rebuild, Murray just wanted to win and avoid a “waste” of his prime. 

"They didn't want to see me waste years rebuilding and stuff,” he said. "They want to see me win and the best for Dejounte, and I thank them for that a lot. That's what makes our relationship special and family forever."

The Spurs also lost guard Lonnie Walker IV in free agency Thursday, as he signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The once promising and dynamic Spurs backcourt is now fizzled, as the team prepares to enter a full rebuild 

Now in the Eastern Conference, Murray will get a chance to reach his fiery goal of winning "a f****** championship." 

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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