Losing Dejounte Murray could meant a finish of Spurs’ 21-year playoff streak


Dejounte Murray was approaching to take a burst for a Spurs this season, yet he’ll instead be on a sideline. (Soobum Im/USA Today Sports)
Tim Bontemps

The San Antonio Spurs aren’t accurately disposed to hyperbole. Within a typically open and permitted NBA universe, San Antonio operates most some-more like an NFL group — during slightest when it comes to vocalization publicly, or even privately, about a skeleton or expectations.

This summer, though, a subject of Dejounte Murray was an exception. Even as a Spurs changed on from Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster trade, rumors kept trickling out of South Texas that a team’s immature indicate ensure was staid to take a large step this season.

There was copiousness of reason for such optimism. Murray, a second group all-defense preference final deteriorate who incited 22 final month, looked staid to sojourn a threat during that finish of a court. Coupled with his length (6-foot-10 wingspan on his 6-5 frame) and athleticism, and murmurs of San Antonio sharpened sorceress Chip Engelland assisting urge his burst shot, Murray had even a typically buttoned-up Spurs buzzing.

Then news came Monday that Murray had ripped his maiden cruciate ligament, sidelining him for a deteriorate before it even begins.

As San Antonio slid from a tip of a West to a center of a container — during best — over a past 18 months, that trend has been demarcated by a stability diminution in impetus during both ends of a court. First to go was Leonard, who usually played 9 games final deteriorate given of his ongoing health issues. Departing with him in a trade with a Toronto Raptors was Danny Green, who stays an jaunty participation on a wing even during 31. Then came a news of Manu Ginóbili’s preference to retire this summer, robbing San Antonio of another energetic ballhandler — even if Ginobili’s defense, during 40, isn’t what it once was.

Murray’s damage removes a one intensity high-upside non-static from a equation Gregg Popovich is perplexing to make work this season.

The Spurs will now start a unchanging deteriorate subsequent Wednesday with some-more questions than they have had during any indicate given before Tim Duncan was taken with a tip altogether collect in a 1997 NBA draft.

For starters, a Spurs don’t have a surefire answer during indicate guard, with possibly Patty Mills or Derrick White, who was hardly used as a rookie, holding over for Murray. Starting possibly of them alongside DeMar DeRozan during sharpened guard, Rudy Gay (post-Achilles’ tear) during tiny brazen and LaMarcus Aldridge during energy brazen means a Spurs will have no improved than normal defenders during 4 positions.

There also is small in terms of bomb play — be it athleticism or scoring — entrance off a bench. Mills can fill it adult if he stays on a bench, as can Marco Belinelli. But both are inconsistent, and conjunction can be confused for a defensive presence. The same goes for Pau Gasol, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes and a rest of San Antonio’s intensity dais unit.

As a result, this might be a year a Spurs skip a playoffs for a initial time given drafting Duncan. Based only off personnel, this shouldn’t be a good defensive team. And with DeRozan, Gay and Aldridge as a primary scorers, San Antonio has changed as distant divided as probable from a pleasing round transformation it employed when it broken LeBron James and a Miami Heat in 2014 to win a fifth title.

For San Antonio to tarry a West and make a playoffs will need maybe a best coaching pursuit of Popovich’s career — and, given all he’s finished so far, that is seeking utterly a bit. Popovich is going to have to awaken good defensive performances out of a group that shouldn’t have many. And he’ll need to find ways to maximize an offense that is formed around DeRozan and Aldridge, dual undoubtedly gifted players who don’t accurately roar efficiency.

Murray was a furious card, a actor who had a possibility to be disruptive force defensively, who Popovich could have handed a keys to a offense like he once did with another young, tender contestant in Tony Parker. Murray could have grown into a kind of front line descent purpose San Antonio indispensable him to fill.

The intense reports from in and around a Spurs led many outward a classification to trust that had a really genuine possibility of happening. Combined with a common honour for San Antonio and a arrogance a group would, as always, figure things out, caused many within a NBA to boot conjecture that a Spurs were done.

But afterwards Murray gathering down a line Sunday, planted his right leg and crumpled. When he eventually got adult and walked off a court, he took San Antonio’s hopes of remaining a cause in a West this deteriorate with him.

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