The New Orleans Pelicans went out and swung a trade with the Atlanta Hawks to acquire Dejounte Murray, adding a star into their backcourt in the process. While the Hawks didn't exactly flourish during Murray's two seasons with the team, he took strides on the offensive end of the floor, and at his peak, he's one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.

The issue is that Murray wasn't always at his best on defense during his time in Atlanta. In fact, according to one Hawks fan on social media, if Murray had simply played better defense during his time with the team, he would still be with them rather than the Pelicans. Unsurprisingly, this post quickly went viral on social media.

Murray ended up catching wind of it, and given his billing as one of the best defenders in the game during his peak with the San Antonio Spurs, he wasn't too happy to see these comments. The Pelicans new star guard responded in a since deleted tweet that appears to be placing the blame on Hawks head coach Quin Snyder for his defensive struggles, saying that he wanted to guard the opposing teams' best player, but Snyder wanted him to save his energy for offense.

Via Dejounte Murray:

“Another Casual That Don't Watch Hoops Or Really Know What's Going On With His FAVORITE TEAM!! Ask Your Head Coach Why When I Begged Him For Me To Guard The Best Players I Was Told They Wanna Save My Energy For Scoring!!! Hahahaha. You Will See A MONSTER On Defense 24-25 SZN.”

Dejounte Murray eager to show off defensive prowess with Pelicans

Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray (5) dribbles the ball while Indiana Pacers guard Ben Sheppard (26) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Murray was a member of the All-Defensive second team for the 2017-18 campaign, and he led the league with two steals per game in the 2021-22 campaign. After starring on the defensive end of the floor with the Spurs, though, Murray took big steps back on defense with the Hawks, as he struggled to make the same impact he was making earlier in his career.

Murray is placing the blame squarely on Snyder, who he claims wanted him to focus on his production on the offensive end of the floor. To his credit, Murray put up some big numbers in the 2023-24 campaign (22.5 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.3 RPG, 45.9 FG%), but if that is truly what ended up happening, he wasn't allowed to be his best version on the other end of the floor.

On a Pelicans team in desperate need of some defensive help, particularly on the perimeter, it would be wise for head coach Willie Green to employ Murray as their main defensive stopper on their opponents' best player. After a pair of down years on defense with Atlanta, Murray appears eager to prove he's still one of the best defenders in the game, and that will surely be a storyline worth keeping an eye on next season.