After failing to qualify for the playoffs last season, the New Orleans Pelicans will look to bounce back under new head coach Stan Van Gundy. In order to improve their ability to contend in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, the Pelicans plan to make some moves with their roster, and one could involve star point guard Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans are openly discussing Holiday in trade talks and several contending teams are pursuing, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Holiday currently has two years remaining on his current contract, including a player option worth over $26 million for the 2021-22 season.
From The Athletic:
The New Orleans Pelicans are openly discussing point guard Jrue Holiday in trade talks and several contending teams are interested, sources tell The Athletic.
Holiday, who has been with the team since 2013, has been a popular name in trade discussions as the Pelicans navigate a rebuild through their younger players. Thought to be one of the better defenders at his position in the league, the one-time All-Star could bolster a contending roster.
Holiday was the 2020 NBA Teammate of the Year, so his locker-room presence is something that may be appealing to other teams. He’s coming off a 2019-20 campaign where he averaged 19.1 points, 6.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Pelicans executive David Griffin addressed this recent report on Wednesday, and though he didn’t deny the team was listening to offers, he made it clear that they aren’t determined to move on from Holiday.
“Jrue and Lauren are special people, and they’ve been special parts of this team and a special part of this community,” Griffin said in a virtual Q&A with fans. “This is something when you read something like that, you think something must’ve happened as though it was newsworthy that we were listening to trade discussions around a player. That’s our job. We’ve done that since I got here. We’ve had similar conversations at last year’s trade deadline. No one is actively trying to do anything different than we were before. We’re trying to build a team that can be highly competitive today and build toward a sustainable future.
“If that means that Jrue is part of that, that’s special for us because he loves being with us and we love the way he plays. If the best way to build toward the future and the best way to put him in the best position to succeed is for him to be traded, that’s what ends up happening. But those things come about because you’re trying to build toward a sustainable future and Jrue is trying to put himself in the best position to win. We’re grateful he’s done that with us and we see no reason that won’t continue.”
This isn’t the first time Holiday’s name has popped up in trade talks as of late as the Nets and Pelicans reportedly discussed a trade involving Holiday prior to the trade deadline last season. The Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat also pursued Holiday last season. Those teams could all still have interest in acquiring the former All-Star. As an elite perimeter defender capable of playing both on and off the ball on the offensive end, Holiday’s skill set is an ideal fit for today’s game. As such, other contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers could use a player of his ilk.
While Holiday has been very valuable to the Pelicans, he would be even more so on a team set up to win immediately. The young Pelicans, who will likely try to build their team around second year star Zion Williamson, appear be a couple of years away from true contention. By trading Holiday, 30, New Orleans would likely look to add younger pieces that align better with its team timeline. Holiday, who averaged 19.1 points, 6.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game last season, still has a lot of good ball left in him, and he could ultimately prove to be a big boon to a contending team that is able to land him.