Hawks guard Dejounte Murray ready to build off last season’s lessons

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) talk as a teammate attempts a free-throw during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at State Farm Arena, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) talk as a teammate attempts a free-throw during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at State Farm Arena, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

After one season with the Hawks, guard Dejounte Murray looks to build off the good and the bad.

He understands great things take time, and he doesn’t doubt that the solid foundation he and backcourt partner Trae Young had last season, as well as in the offseason, will translate into positive chemistry on the court.

“It will translate,” he said. “Great things don’t happen overnight.”

When the Hawks acquired Murray last year, they looked to add another ballhandler who could take some of the pressure off of Young. The team gave up a haul of picks for Murray, after a season that earned him an All-Star nod, and expectations for the Hawks rose.

Instead, the Hawks ended the regular season 41-41 after a tumultuous season off the court that saw its vice president of basketball operations ousted and the hire of a new coach in the final quarter of the regular season.

It taught Murray, who averaged 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists, a lot about his new team, that it could weather the storm swirling around it. The Hawks pulled off a strong win over the Heat in the play-in tournament. But they ultimately lost to the Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs despite the pairing of Murray and Young finally looking like it had found its legs.

“I mean, you just take the good, the bad and just turn it all positive,” Murray said. “At the end of the day, we showed that we’re high-character guys. We’re guys that don’t quit, and that’s not just the players we had, (but) the coaches we had, the front office we had, the staff in general. We just showed no quit through everything we went through.”

Despite the season of ups and downs, Murray remains committed to building the Hawks into a championship-winning team. Now he’ll have some time to do so after the team finalized a four-year, $120 million deal with him.

Murray, who turns 27 on Tuesday, still had one year remaining on his contract and could have tested free agency at the end of the coming season. But the Hawks valued what he brought to the team on the court, as well as off of it.

“DJ is someone we want to continue to build with,” Hawks general manager Landry Fields said in a statement following the team’s announcement of Murray’s extension. “He’s a dynamic talent with the heart of a leader. He leads by example, is an unselfish teammate and truly cares about winning.”

When the Hawks acquired him last summer, Murray said he committed to the team from that moment, especially after seeing what it took to make the deal happen. He said loyalty is a big deal for him, and he is committed to the Hawks for the long haul.

“Me getting the contract extension this summer or next summer, it didn’t matter,” Murray said. “I was all in on Atlanta. Like I said, through all the good or the bad. I’m somebody that don’t run from nothing. That’s just that. I didn’t go into my season last year or last summer, this summer, ‘Oh, I gotta sign an extension.’ All my family and friends know, I was at my full schedule working, getting better, taking care of my body and being a family man.”

It also meant that he would have more time to make things work with Young and the rest of his teammates.

“Like I said, I don’t run from nothing,” Murray said. “Even last year and everything we went through, I smiled, (Young) smiled, and we know that this is just the start of our journey.”

The two guards remain optimistic and committed to making their partnership work, with Young saying he believed the two “can be special” on an episode of “Gil’s Arena,” a podcast hosted by former NBA star Gilbert Arenas.

That’s why they have worked to continue building their relationship off the court this summer.

When Young married his longtime girlfriend, Shelby Miller, in July, Murray and several others from the Hawks made the trip to the Bahamas for the point guard’s wedding. Even when they’re not together as they tend to their families, they keep the lines of communication open through texts and social media.

“We’ve been around (in Atlanta), participating in workouts and just stuff that’s not mandatory,” Murray said, “but if you want to win at a high level, these things that are not mandatory, you want to make mandatory because in the NBA, you want to have as much time to build chemistry as you can.

“Because when the season comes, you know, it’s on the fly. You’re playing game after game after game. So, our relationship is great, and I could tell he’s excited. I’m excited, but I continue to say it’s bigger than me and Trae. ... You got a bunch of guys that are ready to show that they’ve gotten better. They’re ready to help as much as they can for the organization.”

Training camp does not open until next month, but the two have returned to Atlanta to build on the chemistry that they have been building off the court. Murray is adamant that the chemistry goes beyond him and Young.

“You got to have a whole organization together on the same page to go win or go in that right direction,” Murray said. “So, you know, me and Trae’s great. You guys will see, the world will see, that (the Hawks) are going to get better. ... You know, every guy we have in our roster now is committed and excited to play with one another, and I think that’s the most important.”