By: Jacob Shindel, Columnist
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
Although New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday is not nearly as coveted a player as Giannis Antetokounmpo, his current state in the NBA warrants an article to discuss where he will be suiting up next season.
Holiday has never been one of the top players in the league, but he has consistently been an integral piece every season. He even won the 2019-2020 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.Throughout his 11-year career, Holiday has been selected to one All-Star Game and he’s been named to the All-Defensive Team twice. He has career averages of 15.9 points per game, 6.4 assists per game and 1.5 steals per game, ranking tenth in steals per game among active players. Despite being a 11-year veteran in the league, Holiday is 30 years old and therefore is a very desirable player.
Holiday brings defensive tenacity, scoring and crucial locker room leadership to teams, which is especially helpful with younger teams like the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans have gone from a mediocre squad with Anthony Davis two years ago, to a borderline playoff team with a very young squad. Even with the very limited minutes from Zion Williamson, the number one overall pick in last year’s draft. The Pelicans seem to be one of the teams with the best potential for the next few years. Why would they trade Holiday?
The Pelicans are a team that is trying to collect a bunch of assets and young pieces, highlighted by the trade that sent Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. The trade netted them a few picks and some valuable young players like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart. It makes sense that the Pelicans are trying to stack up on assets, but they shouldn’t spread themselves too thin.
Unless Holiday has requested a trade, the Pelicans best option would be to keep him on the roster and be a mentor for the young squad. They can follow the path that the Denver Nuggets took with Paul Millsap providing veteran leadership to young stars like Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Holiday is a better version of Millsap. They are both good leaders and have been for their current and former teams. But at this point in his career, Holiday is a much better player looking at stats. He averaged 19.1 points per game, 6.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game this past season.
If I were in the Pelicans front office, Holiday would be on the team next year unless a team came up with an unrefusable offer. What would that unrefusable offer look like? There are a few teams that have shown interest in Holiday. A recent Bleacher Report article listed three potential landing spots: the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, and Portland Trail Blazers. Unless the Trail Blazers were to swap CJ McCollum for Holiday, this trade doesn’t make much sense.
A few weeks ago I wrote a column about how the Nets do not need to blow up their roster and trade for a third star. Holiday does not necessarily fit the bill as a “star,” but he is still a player that the Nets would need to give up some significant pieces to acquire. Let me say it again. Give the current roster a chance. You haven’t seen what they are capable of, and the Nets still found themselves in the playoffs as the eighth seed this past season.
The Denver Nuggets are a much more interesting fit for Holiday, should the Pelicans choose to trade him. The Nuggets have a lot of pieces they can offer, while still maintaining a decent supporting cast. Holiday also presents a much cheaper option than Bradley Beal, who the Nuggets have been rumored to have interest in.
Trading for Beal would almost certainly mean that Michael Porter Jr. would be traded, whereas the Nuggets might be able to keep him if they were to trade for Holiday instead. The Nuggets could send Will Barton, Gary Harris, and one or two future first round picks to the Pelicans for Holiday. This offer would help propel the Nuggets further up in the championship contenders discussion, while the Pelicans would add more assets as they look to prepare for the future. The Pelicans have plentiful options. If they want to go super young and stock up on assets, trading Holiday may be the best option. They still have Derrick Favors as a veteran presence in the locker room. If the Pelicans want to stay competitive while also mentoring their youth, which I believe is the correct option, it would be best for them to keep Holiday.