When it became clear that the New Orleans Pelicans were going to trade veteran guard Jrue Holiday this offseason, there was no shortage of teams lining up to submit their offers. With so many contenders eager to acquire Holiday, the Pelicans had plenty of leverage, and were able to drive up the price.
The Milwaukee Bucks ended up being willing to pay it, giving up Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and a substantial package of picks in what eventually became a four-team deal. Some teams ultimately backed out, however, including the Brooklyn Nets. For one, they didn’t want to give up so many picks — not surprising given that team’s history — but another factor was their trust in Caris LeVert.
In particular, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving didn’t want the shooting guard included in any package, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who made an appearance on Complex’s Load Management podcast Tuesday:
It was a bevy of draft picks, and that just was not a position that Brooklyn was in. They didn’t want to give up two, three first-round picks, multiple pick swaps. Milwaukee obviously wanted to make that move, they clearly want to go for it this year, and they needed that second, third star on this team. But Brooklyn looked into it, but at the end of the day, they didn’t want to trade a guy like Caris LeVert, I’m told, for Jrue Holiday. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, these guys view Caris LeVert as a very significant part of this team.
Most notably, this shows what sort of influence Durant and Irving continue to have in Brooklyn. It doesn’t appear the front office was thrilled about giving up the picks, but it’s likely it would have done so if the two stars wanted Holiday. That they didn’t made the decision to back out of the talks easier.
This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen K.D. and Kyrie get their way in Brooklyn. The team signed their friend DeAndre Jordan last summer despite already having a quality starting in center in Jarrett Allen, and Steve Nash is now the head coach in large part because of his relationship with Durant. These sort of mandates come with the territory, and are generally worth it to get elite talent in the first place.
At the same time, there has to be a balance, and this decision might end up costing the Nets. LeVert is a solid player, and he can really score the ball when he’s healthy. But Holiday is better suited to helping a veteran team win a championship in the next few seasons, and is a more versatile player on both sides of the ball.
Again, we don’t know what else the Pelicans were demanding, and it definitely wasn’t as simple as Durant and Irving calling off a trade the Nets front office wanted to make. But it’s clear they signaled that they would rather have LeVert than Holiday, and only time will tell if their judgement was sound.