Kevin Murphy was in Orlando preparing for his second Summer League with the Utah Jazz when he got the phone call.
“I was in the hotel and coach [Tyrone] Corbin called my room and told me to come into his room,” Murphy told RealGM. “That’s when he told me I got traded to Golden State.”
After spending his rookie season with the Jazz, Murphy was one of the final pieces of the three-team deal that sent Andre Iguodala to the Bay Area. Murphy, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Tennessee Tech, had only logged a total of 58 NBA minutes and taken 28 shots before being shipped.
“Going in I knew it was a part of the business. It’s the NBA, you’re going to get traded sometimes and it’s just part of the game,” Murphy added. “I was just ready to get it started in Golden State and make me another opportunity for myself.”
He spent the Vegas Summer League playing sparingly for the Warriors’ squad, but was waived after the event. Only a year after being a second round pick, Murphy no longer owned an NBA roster spot.
Coming out of high school, Murphy was considered a steal for Tennessee Tech. He was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and chose the Golden Eagles due to the loyalty and commitment invested in him throughout the recruiting process.
He instantly made an impact at Tennessee Tech, playing in all 30 games during his freshman season and starting in 19 of them. He was named to the Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer team after he averaged 9.6 points per game.
After successful sophomore and junior seasons where he averaged 15.3 and 17 points per game respectively, Murphy made national headlines during his senior year. He led the conference in scoring and was 10th in the nation at 20.6 points per contest. The biggest performance of the year was in a 98-80 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville where Murphy set the school’s single-game scoring record with a 50-point display on 16-of-21 shooting. It was the most points scored in Division I games during that season.
With all of his collegiate accolades, the Utah Jazz selected Murphy with the 47th pick of the NBA Draft. He was the third player from Tennessee Tech to be drafted and the first since 1993.
“It was like a dream come true,” Murphy said of the selection. “It was a dream come true for me, my family, and my wife. It was overwhelming.”
After being the primary scoring option throughout his collegiate career, Murphy rarely saw the floor in the NBA and spent 14 games in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns. He only appeared in 17 games for the Jazz.
Murphy was still optimistic of his season, saying, “It was a great experience being in the NBA, but it was all a learning experience as well.”
Without a guaranteed roster spot, Murphy was now one of the best players in the basketball world without a contract. He received offers to attend multiple training camps, but wanted to go to a place where he had a good chance of making a team.
“There wasn’t really a spot like that, where I felt I could go and make a team, so I didn’t want to go to training camp just to say I went to training camp,” said Murphy. “So I decided to go to France and make a little money.”
He signed a contract with the French team Strasbourg IG and averaged 7.6 points per game but started to “butt heads” with the organization. Murphy decided to come back to the States in December and was acquired by the D-League’s Idaho Stampede.
“It was the best interest to me to come back over here and train while I’m still young so I can stick with the main goal and have a good shot of getting back in the NBA,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do now.”
Murphy’s goal of returning to the NBA seems to be only a matter of time at this point. He’s averaging 26.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. He’s especially effective when utilizing a crossover to attack the rim or set up mid-range jumpers. Murphy is shooting 66 percent from inside the three-point line while his 36 percent clip from deep is no weakness either. The D-League’s website currently ranks him as the sixth best prospect in the league.
His production has been especially important with Idaho’s loss of Pierre Jackson. Without a call-up on the horizon, Jackson decided to play in Turkey as an attempt to make additional money for his family. He was averaging 29.1 points per game in the D-League and left a big void in the scoring column.
Since Jackson’s departure, Murphy is averaging 33.2 points per game on 52 percent shooting. The Stampede rattled off three straight wins before losing back-to-back games to the Santa Cruz Warriors.
“Me, Pierre, and Dee Bost had a good relationship on and off the court so we played really good together,” said Murphy. “Now with him gone, I think me and Dee Bost have stepped up pretty good to show teams that we can play the game of basketball. Everybody’s just trying to get an opportunity.”
When the opportunity does come, Murphy hopes to provide instant offense off an NBA bench. He’s working the hardest to improve on the defensive end.
“Teams already know I can score the ball, it’s just about being aggressive and showing that I can play defense and show that I can be a good defender at the next level,” he added.
At this point, Murphy has done basically all he can do to earn a 10-day contract in the NBA. He hopes to continue winning in Boise for the time being, but the obvious goal is to earn another chance in the NBA.
“Right now it’s just a waiting game basically, just waiting for the call,” said Murphy. “All I need is one team to like me. I’m just trying to wait for the opportunity.”
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