Dejounte Murray return could get way worse for the Spurs

The return San Antonio got for Murray could be on the downswing.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs / Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs have one of the most promising futures of any NBA franchise. With Victor Wembanyama captaining their ship, they are set to return to the top of the Western Conference sooner rather than later, and players around the league are already trying to team up with the young phenom.

But they would never have acquired Wemby and would not be in such a promising position without making numerous carefully-planned moves along the way. The first chess move that San Antonio executed that eventually led them to landing Victor was trading away Dejounte Murray.

It felt like such a shocking move at the time, as Murray was coming off his first career All-Star appearance and looked to be the Spurs' franchise player of the future. But the organization had a greater vision, and Dejounte was the casualty that allowed the team to gain an even greater player in the long run.

As we know, San Antonio sent Murray to Atlanta, with the Hawks giving back a plethora of valuable assets. The biggest of which were three first-round picks, as well as a pick swap. Unfortunately for the Spurs, one of those picks has the potential to lose a lot of value in the near future.

The Spurs' 2025 pick from the Hornets could lose value

San Antonio received a 2025 first-round pick in the Dejounte trade that originally belonged to the Charlotte Hornets. That pick was shipped to the Knicks in 2021, then to the Hawks in 2022. The pick still carries its original protections, and that is where the problems start to arise for the Spurs.

The 2025 first-round selection is lottery protected, meaning that if the pick lands outside the top 14, it will belong to San Antonio. However, since the pick is still connected to Charlotte's record, that means it will only become the Spurs' if the Hornets make the playoffs next year in 2025.

Granted, Charlotte was hampered by a lot of injuries this past season, but they are by no means a lock for the playoffs. There seems to be a growing chance that pick will land in the lottery, meaning it will not end up conveying to San Antonio. If that ends up being the case, the Hornets will instead be handing over two second-round picks to the Spurs instead.

According to the terms of the protections, Charlotte would send its 2026 and 2027 second-round picks to the Spurs in place of the 2025 first-rounder if they end up missing the playoffs next season. There is always still the chance to find talent in the second round of the NBA Draft, but they are of course significantly lower than in the first.

Obviously, San Antonio would do the Dejounte Murray trade over again a thousand times if it still meant getting Victor Wembanyama, but this is a disappointing development nonetheless.