According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis has informed the team that he won’t be signing a contract extension and is requesting a trade. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as New Orleans continues to fall short of being a contender despite having one of the game’s top-5 players.
With the Anthony Davis era in New Orleans seemingly coming to an end, the organization is now faced with a decision regarding its future—do they continue building without the player whom the franchise was built around, or do they blow it all up and start a rebuild.
In the last half decade NBA teams have grappled with this decision, and more and more teams are electing to hop off the treadmill of mediocrity and embrace a full blown tank-job. In light of the recent developments around Davis, the Pelicans would be wise to begin a Process-esque rebuild immediately. If they weren’t winning in the playoffs with AD, they aren’t winning now.
As Sixer fans know all too well, any good rebuild starts with a fire sale of any and all players of value; in other words, someone who might get in the way of losing. The Pelicans have a few players who fit that bill, but none more so than Jrue Holiday.
Considering he was the first domino to fall in The Process Era, Holiday should be familiar with the position he’s about the find himself in—the best player on a team that’s going nowhere fast. While the Pelicans’ plans in a post-AD world are still unclear, there would be little reason for them to hold onto a player who will likely be in his mid-to-late 30’s when the team is ready to compete again.
The value of Holiday to a current contender is ridiculously high. He produces at a high-level on both ends of the floor, yet he doesn’t demand touches or attention.
A recent profile from Zach Lowe describes Holiday as a selfless and committed leader in the locker room who relishes the challenge of slowing down the opposing team’s leading scorer—which is unsual for such a capable offensive player.
(Worth the read for NBA fans: What Jure Holiday wants and why it makes him special)
Look no further than his performance in last year’s first round sweep of Portland for proof of this. Holiday was able to use a combination of physicality and anticipation to suffocate Damian Lilliard into shooting 35% from the field and 30% from three, far below his season averages. His ability to clamp one of the league’s most explosive scorers for four games is, needless to say, a valuable trait to have come playoff time.
Offensively, Holiday is one of the most versatile guards in the NBA with his ability to both lead an offense, and operate off-ball as both a shooter and a slasher. There are few players in the league who can seamlessly fit into any roster as well as Holiday can.
Adding someone like him would satisfy multiple needs for the team. He would provide a secondary ball-handler behind Simmons, and a more complete/dependable two-way wing as compared to Brewer, Shamet, or Korkmaz. The team currently lacks both of those things. While I’m a McConnell fan, his shortcomings are clear, and outside of Butler the offense still lacks players who can score off the wing and play consistent defense. Holiday is the rare player who can fill both of these needs at once.
On top of that, Holiday’s ability to guard the opposing team’s best player would take a lot of pressure off of Jimmy Butler. Not only would Jrue be able to handle this role when Jimmy’s off the floor, but his presence would allow Butler to switch more often and play more off-ball defense as a “free safety.”
What would we need to give up?
While there has been a lot of talk about Jrue being a player that is worth unloading Jimmy Butler for, I don’t think such a trade would involve Butler. For starters, a rebuilding Pelicans team would see absolutely no value in adding him considering his expiring contract. So even if there was truth to the rumors of friction between the Sixers and Butler, the Pelicans would be one of the last teams on a list of potential destinations.
More realistically, any trade would revolve around draft picks, and one of Fultz or Zhaire Smith. The Sixers have their own first round picks to trade along with the 2021 Miami pick and a Bulls’ 2019 second rounder that figures to be 31-35 overall (decent value).
Fultz and the 2021 Miami pick feel like our biggest assets right now (which says a lot about the job Colangelo has done) and I don’t think the team wants to trade both for a player like Jrue. Here are two possible trades I’m proposing:
The Sixers receive:
The Pelicans receive:
Both packages work for both sides, it really just comes down to how they value Fultz and their level of comfort with the 2021 Miami pick. Miami looks poised for a rebuild in the near future, but with the pick still three drafts away anything could happen.
I don’t know exactly what the trade market would look like for Holiday, but I have a hard time imagining someone offering much more than this considering his slightly high cap number at $26 million.
Still, with Holiday under contract for three more years and right in the middle of his prime it’s hard to deny that he’s the perfect piece for any contender to add on the wing. If the Pelicans elect for a fire sale then let’s hope the Sixers front office looks long and hard at the player who’s 2012 draft night trade kicked this whole Process thing off.