NBA
November 9, 2020
BY Isaiah Freedman

5 Jrue Holiday Trades That Need to Happen

Amid a tumultuous election that had everyone on the edge of their seats, the Athletic’s Shams Charania dropped his own juicy piece of news:

Jrue Holiday has been in trade rumors longer than it takes Nevada to count a vote, but he’s been one of the most dependable guards in the league for years. His blend of tenacious defense, playmaking and scoring are exactly the types of skills needed to succeed in the NBA. Holiday isn’t far removed from locking down Damian Lillard in the 2018 playoffs, and while his time in New Orleans appears to be coming to an end, he’s going to make a big difference at his next destination.

At 30, Holiday is a fully entrenched veteran in the league with a $25 million salary next season, and a $26 million player option the year after that. The Pelicans, meanwhile have a young, promising core that is better suited to be constructed around Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson’s age bracket.

Just because Holiday doesn’t fit the Pelicans’ timeline anymore doesn’t mean he’s not going to immensely improve his next team. There should be a very robust market for Holiday, so let’s explore where he fits best.

Indiana Pacers

Trade No. 1: Myles Turner and Doug McDermott for Holiday

Let’s not bury the lede: if this trade goes through, Holiday would join his brothers Justin and Aaron to become the first trio of brothers in NBA history to play on the same team. That is so damn cool. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Jrue would be a great replacement if a potential Victor Oladipo trade occurs. For the Pacers, this trade allows them to shift Domantas Sabonis to the center position, where he’s a much more natural fit. And even if Oladipo stays, a backcourt rotation of Jrue, Oladipo and the reliable Malcolm Brodgon would be the deepest in the league.

For the Pelicans, Turner is the perfect complement to Zion Williamson due to his ability to space the floor from deep and defend the rim. While Zion’s final form is likely a small-ball center, he’s currently not refined enough on defense to shoulder that load. Turner is just 24 but is already entering his sixth year. He’s the big man that this team needs.

Milwaukee Bucks

Trade No. 2: Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson for Holiday

The Bucks need to make a splash in what could be their final season employing Giannis Antetokounmpo. Unfortunately, postseason demons returned for Eric Bledsoe once again. Wilson is a perennial member of the Mike Budenholzer doghouse, and while DiVincenzo is an improving young player, his play is nowhere near Holiday's.

By acquiring Holiday, the Bucks add a slightly more traditional point guard to help aid the Greek Freak and Khris Middleton in the facilitating department. Holiday, just like Bledsoe, is a stingy defender, so the Bucks should not see any dropoff from their quality defense.

This would also be an appealing deal for the Pelicans, depending on how highly they value DiVincenzo, who would be an excellent addition to their burgeoning core of Ingram, Zion, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. New Orleans might not be on the same timeline as Bledsoe, but if they have playoff aspirations next season, it'd be a good idea to have a gritty defender who is consistent in the regular season. And who knows, maybe coach Stan Van Gundy can unlock Wilson’s potential into a solid backup stretch 4.

Dallas Mavericks

Trade No. 3: Tim Hardaway Jr., Willie Cauley-Stein and a Future 1st-Round Pick for Holiday

Now we are getting juicy. Holiday is a perfect fit for the Mavericks. He would slot right in next to Luka Doncic in the backcourt and take some pressure off the Slovenian Stud to create all the Mavericks’ offense. Holiday would also beef up the Mavs defense. Trading Hardaway and a future first seems like a very fair deal for both parties involved. The Mavericks have a ridiculously young core with their two best players both younger than 25, but farther along in their timeline than the Pelicans are, which means Holiday is a better fit.

For New Orleans, adding another pick in their arsenal is the big prize here, while Hardaway’s shooting prowess helps them space the floor for their young stars. And perhaps Van Gundy can coax a good season out of Cauley-Stein, who has battled injuries recently but still has impressive athletic gifts.

Denver Nuggets

Trade No. 4: Gary Harris, Monte Morris and P.J. Dozier for Holiday

The Nuggets have long been ripe for a consolidation trade, and pouncing now is a perfect time. They’ve had many opportunities in the past to spring for a trade by coughing up promising youngsters for a win-now move, but they've continued to exercise patience. They likely could have acquired Holiday just last year if they were willing to part with Michael Porter Jr., who was more of an enigma back then. But the Nuggets waited, and now that’s going to pay off. 

Holiday’s trade value is probably lower compared to a year or two ago, while Porter has priced himself out of any such deal. Holiday is still exactly who the Nuggets need: a proven veteran who can act as a third playmaker around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, as well as soak up minutes when one or both players rests. Denver’s rotation was running 11 deep before this trade, and dealing for a star is precisely what they should do.

This is by no means a fleecing. Harris has battled troubling ankle injuries and a surprising dip in shooting, but he’s still a young quality defender who could easily find his form when healthy. Morris is perhaps the best backup point guard in the league, and he’s coming off a fantastic postseason performance. Even Dozier had some standout moments in the playoffs, and he’s young enough to keep improving.

The Pelicans get three young talents, which is more than a fair deal in return for a star who is likely to depart in free agency eventually anyway.

Sacramento Kings

No. 5: Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and Jabari Parker for Holiday, J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli

The Kings haven't made the playoffs since 2006, the longest drought in the league currently. Something needs to change, and bringing a proven winner like Holiday is a step in the right direction, especially considering he would help form a dynamic backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic if he’s re-signed this offseason.

Netting Redick in the trade as well is a coup, since he’s someone who can somewhat offset the loss of Hield with his sniper-like shooting. Buddy's tenure in Sacramento has slowly soured to the point of a late-season benching along with reportedly declining to return coach Luke Walton’s phone calls.

This move would place Hield back with the team that originally drafted him before he was traded midway through his rookie season for DeMarcus Cousins.

As the Pelicans build around their talented roster of young players, they need to prioritize shooting, and Hield is the cream of the NBA’s crop with a 39.4 3P% on a voluminous 9.6 attempts per game.

Harrison Barnes is who he is at this point, which is a starting-caliber wing who can serve as the occasional offensive fulcrum. With Ingram entrenched as the team’s lead scorer, Barnes won’t be pressured to lead the team in scoring. He can also defend some of the bigger-bodied wings so Ingram doesn’t have to.

Photo: Getty Images