Should the New Orleans Pelicans re-sign Jrue Holiday? Pelican Debrief’s Brian Wilson examines the case for keeping Jrue and the case for letting him go.
Decision time is looming for the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason. With the team already completing a huge franchise shaping trade for DeMarcus Cousins, they now will have to find the pieces to put around he and all-world big man Anthony Davis. Consequently, the first of those major decisions will come in the form of free agent Jrue Holiday.
Jrue Holiday has spent the past four seasons with the Pelicans, after being traded by the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for two first round picks. Subsequently, those picks would turn out to be Nerlens Noel in 2013 and Elfrid Payton in 2014. Certainly, the Pelicans took a risk by trading two first round picks for Jrue. However, he had just came off an All-Star game selection in 2013 and looked to be a young player on the rise.
In those four seasons with the Pelicans, he has put up an average of 15.8 points, 6.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds per game and shot 44.7 percent from the field overall. That also includes 36.1 percent from deep through his 187 games. Those are solid numbers, for sure. There is, however, a case to be made for keeping Jrue and a case for letting him go.
THE CASE FOR SIGNING JRUE
For one thing, the Pelicans know Jrue Holiday. They know who he is, the type of player and the type of person he is. Additionally, they know what to expect from him. They know his work ethic and his abilities. This should not be an undersell in its importance. Assuming the Pelicans are happy with all of these traits, then that should be a big factor in resigning him.
Likewise, another case for keeping Jrue Holiday would be to examine the alternative. If the Pelicans do not sign him, can they effectively fill his place? Jrue is a talented player, who brings a lot to the table. Finding an equal or better point guard may not be plausible. The young point guard has demonstrated, when healthy, that he is an All-Star caliber player.
His age is another positive factor. Jrue Holiday turns 27 this June, which means he is in his prime. Holiday still has several seasons left to go, before his game should decline. Youth matters in the NBA and having a point guard that is in his prime years can be a big bonus for the Pelicans organization. Re-signing him would also lock him up, throughout those prime years.
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THE CASE FOR LETTING HIM WALK
Comparatively, the biggest knock against Jrue Holiday’s time with the Pelicans has been his overall health. His games played in his first three seasons were 34, 40 and 65. He missed a total of 107 games out of a possible 246. That averages out to missing roughly 43 percent of the games played. Indeed, this is certainly not a flattering stat.
His injury history is of concern. The 2013-2014 season ended early with the discovery a stress fracture in his right leg. One year later, he had a stress reaction in that same leg, which caused him to miss significant time. Last season, he had an eye injury, that resulted in yet another surgery and took away a large portion of games. The eye injury fluke aside, the amount of time he did miss can not be ignored.
Another case can be made for the use of the money it will take to resign Jrue Holiday. Instead, if he is let go, that money could end up being used on two or three other pieces, to surround the Twin towers. If the Pelicans assume Jrue will get a large contract, could it be possible for the Pelicans to pass on that deal and use the money towards other less expensive pieces? How much will Jrue demand in the open market? If last season is any indication at all, the number could be a shock for many Pelicans fans, as north of 20 million is not out of the question.
When you break down the point guards in the league, where does Jrue truly rank? His numbers are solid overall. However, can you put him in the top 10 point guards? Top 15? Where is the line? The point guard position is currently loaded in the NBA. It is a league that includes the likes of Stephen Curry, John Wall, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Depending on where you fall in this debate may impact your opinion of how to pay Jrue. If he is elite, then you keep him for sure. Yet if he is not elite, say in the range of 13th or the 15th best point guard in the league for example, do you then weigh the alternative of replacing him with a slightly lesser point guard and use the money elsewhere?
No matter which side of the fence you fall on in the Jrue debate, the fact remains that the Pelicans have an enormous decision to make this offseason. With DeMarcus Cousins only signed through the end of next season, the ability to retain him will be in part based on the pieces they put around him and Davis.
Jrue is the first piece to this puzzle, and one could argue the biggest piece of the equation. Committing to him would solidify the Pelicans core of three big money players. Do they feel Jrue is that third piece? We will find out sometime after the July 1st window opens and the answer will be fascinating.