Jrue Holiday’s connection with the Pelicans will continue to run deep for a while. The one-time All-Star has agreed to terms on a 5-year, $125 million deal with the Pelicans that will keep him in the fold as the orchestrator of their attack for the foreseeable future, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Holiday missed some time last season due to to health complications with his wife, but was pretty much available to play all season long once he returned to the team.
He isn’t the best point guard on the market this season, but Holiday was the Pelicans’ best bet for their backcourt and more than a serviceable starter in the league. Holiday’s close ties to the team after his wife’s health complications and the birth of their child played a factor in Holiday’s decision to remain with the team, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Sources say that the Pelicans' bond with Holiday is a super strong one after how they supported him through his recent family health crisis.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 30, 2017
Holiday averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists per game in just 33 minutes per game of play last season.
What is Holiday good at?
Holiday is the quintessential point guard in today’s NBA. He’s not a big scorer, but can create his own shot when he needs to. He’s not a special passer, but he always seems to make the right plays and can work a pick and roll really well. He’s not quite a great shooter, but if you leave him open, he’ll make you pay.
With two high usage players down low, Holiday doesn’t need to take many shots for the Pelicans’ offense to work. He’ll be their third option as a scorer, but will mainly have to work to distribute possessions between Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
He’s not the fastest guard, but is quick and shifty enough to get a step on his defender and drawing another. With two great finishers at the rim down low, dump-off passes are easy money.
Familiarity is a big reason why the Pelicans wanted to keep Holiday around. He already has rapport with Davis and, with time, he’ll develop one with Cousins. His combination of patience and skill mixed with two great big men lead to easy buckets.
There were better options than Holiday out there, but the Pelicans probably weren’t getting one due to limited cap space. Playing it safe here was the right move.
What do I need to know about this contract?
For many NBA players, the fifth year of security in a long-term deal is a big sticking point. Holiday earned one with the Pelicans, and will be there for the long term. He has a player option on that fifth year, and will be 32 when it arrives.
If it were a perfect world, the Pelicans probably don’t make this exact commitment to Holiday, but they don’t have any leverage because of their cap situation. With about $84 million in salary next season, they’re just $15 million under the cap. They can tap into the luxury tax with Holiday because of his bird rights, but they don’t have that option with anyone else.
It’s not an ideal situation for them, but Holiday is good enough for them to swallow that pill.
Wojnarowski also reports that incentives could push the total value of the contract to $150 million.
What problems does Holiday solve?
There’s an old addage that goes: “It’s better to have one in hand than two in the bush,” and that’s the game the Pelicans were forced to play here.
Sure, there were some other options out there that may have been better. Both Kyle Lowry and George Hill are upgrades at this point, but it’d take cap gymnastics to even have a shot at signing one of them outright. And the Pelicans just aren’t that attractive of a suitor for either of them at this point.
Moving on Holiday as quickly as possible was the best decision they could have made. Now they’ll get a chance to see him work a full season alongside Davis and Cousins.
What problems does Holiday create?
If the Davis and Cousins experiment doesn’t work out, the Pelicans will have committed a substantial amount of money and time to a point guard who isn’t getting any better and is just above average.
It’s a bit of a gamble to retain him, but the Pelicans are in an impossible situation where they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They just have to hope their big man combination blossoms into something special. If it does, keeping Holiday will pay off.