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Why the San Antonio Spurs should keep Dejounte Murray, trade Derrick White

Robbie Stratakos

The San Antonio Spurs have a bevy of compelling young players, some of which are former lottery selections, but the team itself is 14-22. This franchise is poised to make a significant trade or two within the next year. Guards Dejounte Murray and Derrick White have been rumored trade candidates dating back to last season.

San Antonio has a lot of parity on its roster among the youth. If roster shakeups don’t take place, players’ growth and/or trade value will deteriorate. It’s in the Spurs’ best interest to split up Murray and White.

Here’s why the Spurs should keep Murray and trade White.

Related: Updated NBA trade rumors

Dejounte Murray continues to improve for the San Antonio Spurs

san antonio spurs should not trade dejounte murray
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Murray began his NBA career as a nice role player who hit the boards at a noteworthy rate. Then after a year away from the game due to a torn ACL, he became a well-rounded player who could run an NBA offense. Last season, he made more strides. This season, he has been an impact player.

Murray is a multifaceted player. He scores off the dribble and defends well while hitting the boards and finding his teammates for easy buckets at a high level. Standing at 6-foot-4, Murray’s length is a catalyst for his two-way play. He only gets better with age.

  • Dejounte Murray stats (2021-22): 17.8 points, 8.8 assists, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 43.8/34.1/69.6

One could make the case that Murray should have a spot in the NBA All-Star Game. He’s the Spurs’ best player and has more room for growth. Some element of Murray’s game has improved in every season. Who’s to say he can’t become a better shooter from the perimeter and the charity stripe in the coming months?

The Spurs have to make a substantial trade, but it shouldn’t mean moving on from Murray. San Antonio should look to get people by Murray’s side. The team’s operation goes as he goes. Furthermore, Murray is in the second season of a team-friendly, four-year, $64 million deal. That’s one of the best values in the NBA, not to mention it’s with a 25-year-old ball-handler.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NBA Playoff and championship predictions

San Antonio Spurs should trade Derrick White

san antonio spurs should trade derrick white
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

White is adept at scoring. He creates off the dribble and can be an abrupt source of offense. In recent memory, he has been one of the Spurs’ leading scorers. At the same time, it makes sense for San Antonio to trade him in an effort to improve other parts of its rotation.

The bulk of San Antonio’s young nucleus is made up of guards and wings. That mix includes Murray, White, Lonnie Walker, Devin Vassell, Joshua Primo and Keldon Johnson. Realistically, some of these players will pan out and others won’t. White is among the ones who has become a sturdy force, but he may have also reached his ceiling. That notion stems from Murray’s gradual rise and White being the same player for the better part of the past three seasons.

In moving White, who is in the first season of a four-year, $70 million deal, the Spurs open up minutes for raw players such as Primo and Vassell. In other words, they provide their former first-rounders with the upside to become consistent rotation players.

  • Derrick White stats (2021-22): 14.4 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 42.3/28.9/86.9

The Spurs would be accumulating assets for White, which would likely be some combination of a pair of backend rotation players and future picks, while opening up cap space for the near future. Another option is using White as part of a larger trade for a star player.

White is a proven player, but the Spurs’ wing depth adds merit to them trading him.

NBA power rankings: Find out where the San Antonio Spurs stand

San Antonio Spurs should split up Dejounte Murray, Derrick White

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Murray is one of a handful of players who the Spurs should look to keep and/or build around. Others include Keldon Johnson, whose role in head coach Gregg Popovich’s rotation would increase with White’s departure in the immediate future, and Jakob Poeltl.

White would be traded for one of three reasons: 1) to get young players and draft picks as assets for a future blockbuster trade, 2) to be part of an immediate blockbuster trade or 3) to acquire a frontcourt player of similar rank as White. Concerning scenario two, White and future picks could be the baseline of a trade for someone like Brandon Ingram or Domantas Sabonis.

The Spurs have selected in the top 20 of the NBA Draft in each of the last four seasons and the NBA lottery in each of the last two. Youngsters are piling up, and some of them aren’t panning out due to either a lack of playing time or their respective games not translating well to the NBA. The Spurs need to make a trade to salvage some of their misses or could-be misses before it’s too late.

Players like Walker and Vassell can make up for White’s departure. Walker and White have some similarities in their games when it comes to their scoring ability. Meanwhile, Vassell is putting together a decent second NBA season.

It’s the NBA, and the Spurs reside in the Western Conference. Tough decisions have to be made with frequency. For the Spurs, that means splitting up Murray and White.