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What Should the Pelicans do with Jrue Holiday?

Jrue Holiday is currently under contract through 2021-2022, with the last year being a player option. He will be making around $27 million this year and the next two.  Holiday is a great complimentary player. I thought he should have made the All-NBA third team last year. He does have an injury history and he has regressed from his amazing season last year a little.  

Still, Holiday is a top-five guard defender with the ability to guard bigger players too.  On offense, he probably tops out as a second/third option on a contender. Holiday is solid at a lot of aspects of offense, excelling in finishing, but being a little below average as a shooter.  

Because of his defense and his ability to fit as the primary or secondary ball-handler he could be a keeper for this final version of the Pelicans.  However, keeping him comes at the cost of financial flexibility, and if he were to get put on the trade block at any point through 2020-2021 trade deadline, there is a good chance he instantly becomes the best player on the trade market.  That must be considered. Teams have shown they will pay a premium to get a superstar or someone they view as the final piece (looking at you LA teams).   

As you can see, I am on the fence about whether the Pelicans should view Holiday as part of their future.  But ultimately, it is hard to imagine him being able to produce 4-5 years down the road the way he is now. If a Brandon Ingram package brings back a similar skilled player that is a better fit, I’m all for keeping Holiday.  But if an Ingram trade brings back more long-term prospects, I think you must trade Holiday while his value is at the highest, and he is the best player on the trade market.  

Ironically, Sam Hinkie started off the process by trading Holiday to the Pelicans.  If they were to shop him this season before the deadline, here’s what some trades could look like:

Trade 1:

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In this scenario, the Suns send two interesting wing prospects and two first round picks.  Both Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson project to be role players, but they fill huge needs: Bridges is the prototypical 3-and-D wing, and Johnson is a high-volume quality shooter; both can fit in great on the next iteration of this team.  Because there is no star or future star going to New Orleans, they get two first round picks from the Suns. These should end up somewhere from 10-20, two solid picks. Tyler Johnson is just filler salary, but he expires at the end of the year, so that will open future cap space for the Pelicans.  

Trade 2:

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This scenario is reliant on Miami wanting to get off Dion Waiters bad enough that they might take 90 cents on the dollar for Justice Winslow. This trade allows them to do that and maintain a similar talent level.  The Clippers make their all-in push and pick up Holiday. The Pelicans pick up a very solid return from the two teams; three C+ to B+ level prospects depending on who you ask, and a first round pick that will likely fall around 27-28.  Landry Shamet will be a perfect fit going forward, whereas the others might be a little clunky, but they are still on team-friendly deals and could easily be flipped or factor as a part of a trade for a higher-end player.   

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Trade 3:

The Pelicans do this trade because of how perfect Tyler Herro would fit with the future of this team.  His high volume and efficiency shooting, while being cost-controlled for the next four years would be great for New Orleans.  Justice Winslow is an all-around solid forward on a good deal, his fit will not be perfect, but he can be flipped should it not be optimal.  Olynyk is included to make the money work; he has a player option for next year. If he opts out, his shooting and high basketball IQ would be interesting next to Zion, so he might be worth a resign.  Once again, a first round pick needs to be included for New Orleans because of the lack of a future superstar going back to NOLA.  

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Trade 4:

This trade goes to back to the Brandon Ingram trade that netted Russell.  Russell fits like a glove, and with Holiday being clearly the better player, the Pelicans receive a first-round pick to even out the value some.  

Trade 5:

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This trade is probably the least likely one I’ve written about, but it makes a lot of sense if Porzingis’ fit next to Luka continues to be clunky.  Long story short, Holiday is probably the perfect co-star in the backcourt for Luka, and Porzingis is probably the perfect front-court co-star for Zion.  

Like mentioned earlier, the Holiday trade is contingent upon what happens with Brandon Ingram.  I think Brandon Ingram must be moved regardless. The return on him will either speed up or slow down the timeline of the Pelicans contending and make the Holiday decision easy.

Chandler Harper
Former college basketball player at LaGrange College. NBA writer and basketball trainer.

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