The Indiana Pacers have decided to exercise the third-year team option for Aaron Holiday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team is set to pay him nearly $2.3 million during the 2020-21 season:
The Indiana Pacers have exercised guard Aaron Holiday's third-year team option, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Holiday was Indiana's first-round pick in 2018 and Pacers believe in his potential as he assumes backup PG duties this season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 10, 2019
The Pacers will be using Holiday as their backup point guard for the upcoming season, which will mark his first full-time role in the team’s rotation. There was not a spot in the rotation for him during his rookie campaign since he played behind Darren Collison and Cory Joseph.
Holiday is coming off a rookie season with plenty of flashes of potential and averages of 5.9 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. His production was enough to garner trade interest from across the league around the time of the trade deadline and during the NBA Draft:
A strong impact is going to be required from Holiday given the Pacers’ bench unit is full of inexperience. Between Holiday and Edmond Sumner in the backcourt and T.J. Leaf and Goga Bitadze in the frontcourt, none of them have ever played a full season as a solidified member of an NBA rotation.
Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott are their most experienced bench players for now, and both guys primarily are catch-and-shoot players who move without the basketball. McDermott certainly can’t be the focus of a bench unit given he received a DNP-CD during the final game of the Pacers’ recent playoff series with the Boston Celtics.
Then there’s T.J. McConnell, who’s a solid player in limited minutes, but one who shouldn’t be counted on. There’s also very little little upside with McConnell.
To make matters worse, new starter Domantas Sabonis was the focus of the Pacers’ bench last season, leading the whole team in touches per game. The offense ran through him on dribble handoffs, pick-and-rolls, and post-ups, and now they will no longer have that central focus of their offense off the bench. Other players like Holiday will need to step up without Sabonis’ presence.
There will need to be further development from Holiday as he takes on a more prominent role with the Pacers, especially with Victor Oladipo set to miss the beginning of the season as he continues his rehab. Holiday’s offensive impact was centered around his efficient catch-and-shoot ability in spot-up situations. However, he will need to become more consistent as a scorer and as a passer in areas like pick-and-roll ball handling, transition, handoffs, and isolation.
The Pacers will be providing Holiday with a real chance to showcase his abilities during the upcoming season. It will be up to him to take full advantage of it.