NBA

Dejounte Murray expects ‘smooth transition’ to push Pelicans to a higher level

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Coming off his two best seasons with the Hawks, Dejounte Murray was traded out to New Orleans to continue his promising career. According to the guard, he’s more than grateful for the opportunity given in Atlanta, but couldn’t be happier to have landed in a squad that made the 2024 NBA playoffs and is led by Zion Williamson. 

The 27-year-old, who was present this Tuesday at his introductory press conference at the Pelicans‘ headquarters, believes that from now on his future will be determined by team results, and not individual performances. “It’s a business and I stay out of when it comes to the front office.

“You’ve got to realize, in the NBA, you have to win. It’s not on one player. You always have to do what’s best for your team and sometimes those are hard things and I understand,” Murray said.

In his own words, his main goal is “working hard and being a great person,” he said. “That’s the same thing I try to tell young guys coming into the league — control what you can control.”

Just two years ago in San Antonio, the athlete was named an All-Star when he averaged 21.1 rebounds, 9.2 assists and two steals per contest. That campaign was his last in a Spurs jersey, which was the team that selected him as a 29th overall pick out of Washington in the 2016 NBA Draft.

During his time in Georgia, he reached his career-high in points with 22.5 per match. Despite this, he has been traded away from the second time in three years. “San Antonio was San Antonio, and Atlanta was Atlanta,” Dejounte said. “I’m in New Orleans as a Pelican and I’m excited for that — and that’s all that matters.”

“I understand my role. I’m a basketball player. I’m not a GM,” the 27-year-old expressed on Tuesday. “I want to continue to grow as man and a father and basketball player. … I fit in perfect and I think it’s going to be a smooth transition.”

According to the new signing, the Pelicans were “already a great team” after winning 49 games during last year’s regular season

In a way, Murray is trying to say that he feels his NBA career has been upgraded after signing a new contract in New Orleans. The point guard recognized that the Pelicans were “already a great team” before his arrival, as their numbers from last season are enough proof.

The Louisiana club finished 7th in the Western Conference, despite losing afterwards against the Lakers in the Play-In Tournament. Eventually, Williamson suffered a season-ending injury and the squad was swept by top-seeded Oklahoma City in the playoff’s first round. “They won 49 games and going to the playoffs, that speaks for itself,” he said.

As for teaming up with Zion, he believes they will bring out the best of each other. “That’s our superstar and I’m excited to push him,” he expressed as Williamson was attending his press conference in the front row, smiling directly at the team’s newest signing.

“I told him I’m going to push him,” Murray then added. “If I see something I think he can be better at, if he sees something to me, we’re going to be open to that. … I’m excited to push him to the next level because there are a bunch of levels he can reach.”