While the New Orleans Pelicans would like to try to win as many games as possible, as new executive vice president David Griffin has said, the unfortunate reality for them is they are not good enough to do so meaningfully, even with Zion Williamson set to come aboard as the No. 1 pick.
Griffin also wants to try to keep Anthony Davis. That isn’t going to work out either.
The Pelicans are on the brink of a rebuild. Outside of Davis and this newly won No. 1 pick, they have a few assets they can move, with Jrue Holiday the most valuable among them. Holiday has spent the past six seasons of his career in New Orleans, and he has had back-to-back great years with the Pelicans. He is in the prime of his career and has rounded out his game, making him a complete player. This season, he averaged a career-high 21.2 points per game, along with 7.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds per contest.
A combo guard who even spent some time at small forward over the past two seasons, as well as an All-Defensive player, Holiday is a fringe All-Star, and if the Pelicans decide to move him to thrust the team into a rebuild, the coup they could return for him would be bountiful.
There are plenty of teams who would be interested in acquiring Holiday if he were to become available. For now, we’ll look at three teams who could use his services the most.
The Pistons are a team in need of an upgrade at their starting point guard spot, but also could fill a hole at the shooting guard position if they were somehow able to acquire Jrue Holiday. They have no cap space and limited assets, but need him more than any other team. Ed Stefanski and Dwane Casey desperately desire to put a winning team around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.
Reggie Jackson had a nice second half of the season and did well in the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks, but he has reached his ceiling. At shooting guard, the Pistons started Bruce Brown for his defensive purposes alone, but could get a menacing defender with a well-equipped offensive game in Holiday, which would be a huge improvement.
Asset wise, the Pistons own all of their first-round draft picks and have a trio of young guards on the roster in Brown, Khyri Thomas, and Svi Mykhailiuk. Their best trade piece remains Luke Kennard, who shined in the playoffs for Detroit. He is just 22, has shot 40.3 percent from the 3-point line through the first two seasons of his career, and is a quality secondary playmaker.
In the postseason, Kennard averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He shot 60 percent from distance on just under four attempts per game. The Pelicans have a major hole on the wing, and Kennard would greatly improve their talent there.
The Pistons would have a great deal of work to do to get a trade with the Pelicans done considering the cap situation and lack of assets. Nonetheless, the team’s outlook would improve with the addition of Holiday.
The Pacers could be gutted of every ball handler on the current roster outside of Victor Oladipo and rookie point guard Aaron Holiday, as the likes of Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Bojan Bogdanovic all hit unrestricted free agency. Tyreke Evans was also set to hit free agency, but he has been banned from the NBA for at least two years due to violating the league’s Anti-Drug Program. While the Pacers could bring back these players (outside of Evans), it is no secret that they too are in need of a point guard upgrade. Pairing Jrue Holiday with a healthy Oladipo upon his return would give Indiana one of the best backcourts in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana has the cap space to make a deal with the Pelicans, with the previously mentioned names all slated to be free agents. The Pacers also have all of their first-round picks and a terrific young big man in Domantas Sabonis in terms of prime assets.
Holiday fits the mold of the type of player who fits Indiana’s style as well, as a defensive-minded player who helps create offense from his defense. What makes his fit with the Pacers so mouth-watering is his ability to alleviate some stress from Victor Oladipo. As his play has risen to a new level, so has his usage percentage over the last two seasons. With another star-level player to handle the basketball, initiate the offense, and provide more shot creation, Oladipo wouldn’t have to be the only player on the team capable of doing all that.
In a lesser role, Bogdanovic could do the same, but for numerous reasons that cannot be expected again next season. He is already 30 years old, and this year was a career season for him across the board. There should be more worry about regression to the mean rather than even more growth and development. Again, he is also a free agent and will likely be prioritizing a big payday one final time. Smart teams will have to think twice about offering a larger contract to a player who just had the best season of his career and who will be 31 by the end of the 2019-2020 campaign. Holiday is simply a better player on both ends of the floor, is two years younger than Bogdanovic, and will be under contract until he is 31 years old.
Also, if the Pacers are able to acquire Jrue without trading Aaron, then two of the three Holiday brothers would be on the same team. We need that. The final Holiday brother, Justin, is also an unrestricted free agent.
Jrue Holiday does not fit the timeline of the Phoenix Suns, but it would be a very Suns move to target him nonetheless. Star shooting guard Devin Booker, who ended up bring pigeonholed into playing heavy minutes at point guard for Phoenix due to the dire situation at the position this season, is clamoring for more wins, as is owner Robert Sarver. There is no chance Booker would be involved in the deal to acquire Holiday, but everyone else on the Suns’ roster should be fair game, including Deandre Ayton. There is no doubt they have the assets to make a deal enticing for New Orleans.
Outside of Ayton, the Suns have assets like Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, all their own picks, and other first-round picks they are owed from multiple teams.
With Holiday to bolster a team with Booker, whoever remains after a potential trade to acquire the point guard, and perhaps Kelly Oubre Jr. (a restricted free agent), the makings of a more competitive team would be there.
While Holiday isn’t necessarily the best fit for the Suns, they are hungry to win now and seem ready to jumpstart their timeline by making a trade of this magnitude.
With the Pelicans magically winning the lottery and having the opportunity to draft Zion Williamson, they are looking at the opportunity to begin a rebuild with one of the best young talents in the league. The hauls they could coup for Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday would instantly provide them with one of the best young cores in the NBA. They would be wise to check their suitors on Holiday, as numerous teams would almost assuredly be interested in the two-way point guard.