The New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly open for business.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Pelicans are "openly discussing" Jrue Holiday in trade talks. Charania added that "several contending teams are pursuing" the 30-year-old.
The New Orleans Pelicans are openly discussing star Jrue Holiday in trade talks and several contending teams are pursuing, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.- Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 4, 2020
This is a big deal. Holiday is seven seasons removed from his one and only All-Star selection, but he's one of the best defenders at the guard position, earning an All-Defensive First Team selection in 2018 and an All-Defensive Second Team selection in 2019. He's a capable playmaker and solid 3-point shooter, making him someone who can play with and without the ball in his hands at a high enough level to be a tertiary option on a contender.
With that in mind, which teams should make a move for Holiday? Let's take a look.
This is the obvious one.
First and foremost, the Nets have some interesting assets they could make available. We can assume Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are off the table for obvious reasons, but the Nets might be willing to move some combination of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen to acquire Holiday. LeVert and Dinwiddie are both coming off of breakout seasons and Allen is one of the best centre prospects in the league. They each match the development timeline of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram better than Holiday does, although their fits next to them aren't necessarily the cleanest.
Secondly, Holiday has the potential to fit in like a glove next to Irving and Durant. He'd be able to take the pressure off of the two of them defensively by matching up with the opposing team's best perimeter player, which is important considering Irving has never been much of a defender and Durant is coming off of an Achilles tear that sidelined him for the entire 2019-20 season. Offensively, he's a good enough shooter to play next to them - Holiday drained 36.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts on a decent volume this season - and he's a good enough playmaker to take some of the offensive load off of them.
Holiday's efficiency declined as a pick-and-roll scorer this season, but he ranked in the 63rd percentile in scoring efficiency on those plays in 2018-19 and the 69th percentile in 2017-18. He's also a capable scorer in isolation, ranking in the 88th percentile this season with 1.08 points per possession.
There would be some risk involved for the Nets, as Holiday has a player option in his contract for the 2021-22 season. If he were to turn that down to test free agency, there's a chance he'd only be in Brooklyn for one season. But with an opportunity to compete for a championship next season, Holiday could put them over the edge.
I mentioned the Nuggets as a possibility for Holiday back in December when Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that he was "no longer untouchable."
As I wrote back then, the best way to look at Holiday's fit on the Nuggets is through the lens of him replacing Gary Harris. Peak Harris was a better 3-point shooter than peak Holiday, but Holiday surpasses him in just about every other area. He's a better defender, better cutter, better passer, better rebounder ... you name it.
The Nuggets already have a lot of firepower in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, but pairing Holiday with them would give Denver a defensive-stopper at the guard position and a more versatile scorer. Similar to Irving and Durant, he has the potential to complement the team's core well.
Harris alone, of course, wouldn't be enough to whet the Pelicans' appetite. There's a good chance Harris would be included in the deal to give the Nuggets a chance of matching salaries, but it's hard to imagine the Pelicans making a deal without asking for Michael Porter Jr. If so, would the Nuggets give him up to get Holiday? All the signs point towards Porter being off limits, but they might be more inclined now than they were 10 months ago after their surprise run to the Western Conference Finals in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
Another team I mentioned as a possibility for Holiday back in December.
The Bucks don't have the assets the Nets and Nuggets do, but they might be looking to make an aggressive move this offseason following their disappointing exit in the second round of the playoffs. If the Nets aren't willing to give up two of LeVert, Dinwiddie and Allen, and the Nuggets aren't willing to give up Porter Jr., the Bucks could suddenly have some appeal, especially if they throw in a draft pick or two.
A popular trade that has been thrown out by multiple writers: Holiday for something along the lines of Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo and a future first-round pick. The Bucks wouldn't lose much - if anything - defensively by swapping Bledsoe and Holiday, and Holiday would raise their ceiling offensively in the playoffs. He's a better shooter than Bledsoe and a far superior playmaker.
Again, it's easy to imagine the Bucks being one of the "several contending teams" interested in Holiday. The hard part will be putting together a better package than those other "contending teams."
Portland Trail Blazers
This could be as simple as Holiday for CJ McCollum.
Holiday is neither the scorer nor shooter that McCollum is, but his defence would make a difference on a Blazers team that ranked 27th in defensive efficiency this season. The Pelicans would take a step back defensively, but McCollum would complement both Williamson and Ingram well offensively, giving them a legitimate three-level scorer.
The three of them, plus Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick, would make for an uptempo team that has the potential to be one of the better offensive teams in the league, especially with Stan Van Gundy pulling the strings.
This wouldn't shake up the league in the same way as other trades, but it could likely make the Blazers and the Pelicans better on the margins by giving them a borderline All-Star whose fit is a little cleaner with what they already have on the roster.
One thing to keep in mind for the Blazers: McCollum is under contract until 2023-24, whereas Holiday could test free agency as soon as next offseason. The Blazers might want another asset in return to offset some of that risk.
Miami Heat - The Heat made a lot more sense before the deadline because they had a number of players on expiring contracts. Their best bet at matching salaries is now Andre Iguodala, who is owed $15.0 million next season. Iguodala and Tyler Herro could draw some interest.
Philadelphia 76ers - Expect the 76ers to come up a lot in trade talks this offseason. Whether or not they make a big trade, we'll see, but they'll receive a lot of calls if Ben Simmons and/or Joel Embiid ever become available.
Minnesota Timberwolves - There has been some chatter about the Timberwolves looking to trade the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Could that be the centrepiece of a deal for Holiday? The Timberwolves could use his defence next to D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Golden State Warriors - The No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft and their trade exception make the Warriors a possibility. The thought of Holiday next to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is scary.
Dallas Mavericks - Holiday would complement Luka Doncic well on both ends of the court, giving the Mavericks an elite perimeter defender and another playmaker in the backcourt. Holiday is a bit older than Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but the Mavericks proved to be ahead of schedule this season.
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