Eight months ago, Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday announced he was taking a leave of absence and was going to miss training camp and the beginning of the regular season. Holiday’s wife Lauren who was in the midst of a medical crises while pregnant had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Holiday could not say for sure when he would return but he was clear it wouldn’t be until his wife delivered their first child, and after she recovered from brain surgery. Holiday had no confusion about priorities. Family first, NBA basketball second.
His employers, the New Orleans Pelicans, were very supportive of Holiday and his family medical crises. “The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is to be with his wife and family. Every one of our coaches and players understand what Lauren and Jrue are going through and they know we’re behind them one hundred percent. We’ll continue to do everything we can to support them and help them get through these hard times”, said Alvin Gentry, Holiday’s coach.
Mid-November Holiday returned to his job as point guard for the Pels. Gentry said, “We’re going to welcome him [Holiday] back whenever he feels that it is time to comeback and his family is in good hands.”
Holiday played 67 games, 32.7 minutes. He had a career high shooting the ball, 45.3%. He had a career high, nearly 50%, on two-point shots. He had a career high in defensive rebounds. He posted career highs in mid-range shooting.
Jrue had an excellent season in the last year of his $11 million dollar deal with the Pelicans. An unrestricted free agent, Holiday was drafted by the 76ers and traded to the Pelicans after his fourth year. The former UCLA point has been in New Orleans four years and everyone in the organization wants it to be four more years.
But Jrue has every intention of exploring free agency and there are plenty of teams wanting a chance to bring Holiday in.
The Knicks are interested and are in desperate need of a playmaker/point guard. The Timberwolves have been trying to move Ricky Rubio since forever. They are under the cap and can fit Jrue and a payday in. The Spurs may have to move players around but they need to put Tony Parker on the bench and get younger at the playmaker position. The Raptors may lose Kyle Lowry and a Holiday-DeRozan backcourt, both from Southern Cal, would make perfect sense.
Jrue will have interviews, including the Pelicans.
It is the Pelicans, though, that think the Jrue Holiday wish list should only have one name on it. Them. They were loyal to him when he needed them to be and now Holiday should acknowledge their understanding with commitment. Gentry is particularly desperate. This may be his last chance in the Big Easy. With Cousins in training camp, and Anthony Davis and Holiday, the Pelicans have a good shot at the playoffs, [if Gentry can figure the Cousins-Davis pairing out]. Holiday walking puts a wrench in everything.
The loyalty card the Pelicans want Holiday to play is fake. Because if the Pelicans, for whatever reason, wanted to trade Holiday, they wouldn’t spend five seconds thinking about loyalty but about what is best for the team. A double standard tilts the NBA world. Players are supposed to be loyal while front offices are about team and business.
It was character revealing that Gentry and Pels GM Dell Demps were so supportive of Holiday and his family during a stressful medical event. It said everything you need to know about their compassion and heart. But that show of grace and thoughtfulness wasn’t business; it was kindness. Holiday’s free agency is all business.
If organizations exemplify business as their model, why can’t players whose careers and future are at stake.
The Pelican’s can offer Holiday a five-year deal. The rest of the league can only offer four years. But it is how much the contract will be worth, how many zeroes, that determines if Jrue Holiday will be in the backcourt feeding Anthony Davis. Holiday isn’t a max player. He isn’t on the Steph Curry, James Harden best point guard list. But you can see a scenario where a team may try to price the Pelicans out by overpaying Holiday. It is the Pels worst fear.
So the truth in this entire equation is forget loyalty. If you want to know where Jrue Holiday winds up in October, then just follow the money.
photo via llananba