Jrue Holiday's troublesome stress fracture in his right leg has been a sore spot for the New Orleans Pelicans for quite some time. Thus far, it has resulted in 91 missed games over the course of two seasons out of a total of 168 opportunities. It first manifested in January 2014 and Holiday was expected to miss a couple weeks. Ultimately surgery was required, performed on February 28, 2014, and it sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
This season began with high hopes and Holiday started the first 37 games without incident. After halftime in the Boston Celtics game (a disasterous road trip if there ever was one), Holiday did not return. The diagnosis this time was not a stress fracture but a stress reaction, the precursor to the former. While ramping up activity for a return after the All-Star break, Holiday suffered a setback. His ultimate return, for spot time with limited minutes, helped the Pelicans get into the playoffs.
Turns out, the Pelicans have serious concerns that Holiday's tibia has a much longer story arc, reaching back to his days in Philadelphia.
If true, this would mean that Holiday played some portion of the 2012-13 season with this injury, and that injury was no disclosed to the Pelicans during the trade process.
The Sixers traded Holiday, an all-star point guard, to the Pelicans on the night of the 2013 NBA draft for the rights to Nerlens Noel, the sixth overall pick that year.
The sources said Holiday played with stress fractures in his lower right leg during his final season with the Sixers. However, the sources said, those injures weren't fully disclosed to the Pelicans.
Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie declined to comment, but a Sixers team source disputed the allegation.
If Dell Demps knew of this history, would he have made the trade? Would he have been able to more credibly negotiate a lower price? Possibly. We don't have a time machine. Lingering here, in my opinion, is completely futile. Let me be clear.
The Pelicans cannot go back in time and undo the trade.
I am certain that those who wish to bash Demps and his plan will add this onto their fire. For New Orleans now, what is more pressing is how this effects the future. Is the removal of the troublesome screw, completed on May 6th, the end of this process? How will the Pelican medical staff change their approach?
My best guess: it changes absolutely nothing beyond Tom Benson receiving $3 million. Holiday's issues with this injury, even with an older genesis, remain. The team should, even without this knowledge, be watching and monitoring his load like a hawk because he's had two surgeries and missed 91 games.
For the Sixers, however, this could come at a real cost. It is well known that the Philadelphia 76ers will need to make a trade at some point to balance out their roster. Nerlens Noel (knee injury), Joel Embiid (foot injury), and Jahlil Okafor might be able to co-exist for some time as they adjust. However, when it is time to win, turning one of those assets into players that better compliment the roster will be necessary for real competition. The logic behind drafting the best player available is that the return, should that player not fit, is greatest in the future than drafting for fit first.
General Manager Sam Hinkie's ability to get fair value will be diminished with this news. The medical reports delivered from the Sixers to other franchises will be considered less trustworthy. Some may avoid dealing for players out of the Philadelphia system due to these fears. It will drive down the value of the assets Hinkie has accumulated when it comes time to cash in. Their roster does not need fit right now. When it comes time to make the moves necessary, the value of his assets is lessened. That is a real cost.
Jrue Holiday's Future
Look, it was already cloudy. Again, he's missed 91 games due to functionally one injury that simply has not healed all the way up to this point. The rest of his career, as I noted last fall, is nearly spotless. In three years in Philadelphia Jrue Holiday missed a total of five games due to injury. If instead his history was littered with a variety of maladies, I would be far more concerned and find the "injury-prone" moniker more reasonable. As of now, my belief is that this is one, long-term injury. Holiday could be out of the woods now that the screw has been removed, or this could continue to be an issue.
As far as his trajectory on the court, it has pointed steadily upward.
Holiday continues to compare quite favorably to Mike Conley at the same age.
This information does not change Holiday's career trajectory (upward) or the very valid concerns (injury related). If he overcomes the injury concerns, it is reasonable to suggest he could be the third best player on a championship caliber team, and possibly the second. If his injury persists, he cannot be counted on. It really is that simple.
Root your wife on in the semifinal on Tuesday Mr. Holiday. We look forward to doing the same in the Smoothie King Center this fall.