Coming in to this past off season, the Pelicans had a very difficult, very expensive decision to make: re-sign Jrue Holiday or let him walk and be forced to a new point guard. In a bit of double jeopardy, New Orleans wound up having to do both.
The Pelicans did indeed sign their former All-Star point guard to a five-year, $126 million contract...and then went out and addressed their need for a primary ball handler by coming to terms with Rajon Rondo.
Now I’m not hating on Holiday’s payday. In fact, I’d LOVE to get paid $126 million and then have my bosses go out and find someone to do my job. It’s good work if you can get it. But I feel like the words “Jrue Holiday”, “$126 million” and “Pelicans” all in the same sentence shouldn’t elicit the same reaction as “I know I shouldn’t have one more doughnut but screw it.”
Make no mistake, the Pelicans HAD to resign Jrue Holiday...I think. Well, they probably had to at least. It’s not the player — Jrue’s very good at basketball — it’s just the money tied to him. Holiday will account for nearly 22 percent of New Orleans’ salary cap this season. He will be the sixth highest paid point guard in the entire league. Does anyone consider Jrue a top-six point guard? No, and yet the alternative for New Orleans was let him walk and try and find a player not nearly as good to replace him.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, New Orleans picked the rock, and for better or worse, Jrue’s their guy at point guard. Except maybe he’s not now that Rajon Rondo’s come to town. It’s all very confusing.
Here’s what we know about Jrue Holiday: when he’s on the floor, he’s a bit of an inefficient scorer with decent three point ability. He’ll look to create for his teammates but is awful when it comes to getting to the line. He might be prone to just infuriating turnovers, yet there’s very few players I’d trust more to lock down an opponent’s best perimeter player — an asset that’s much more valuable with Solomon Hill out for the season. With Rondo in tow, New Orleans potentially has one of the better defensive backcourts in the game. We also know Jrue Holiday briefly had a sweet fro but he got rid of it for reasons I’ll never understand. RIP Jrue Holiday’s fro.
What’s the most important phrase in that last paragraph? “When he’s on the floor.” Holiday hasn’t played in at least 70 games since 2012. Accountability is the best ability and Jrue hasn’t been able to contribute. Since being traded to New Orleans Holiday’s missed 122 games. But he, and most importantly his wife and child, are healthy and this year hopes to be the season New Orleans can rely on Holiday from start to finish.
My hope for Jrue Holiday is he and Rondo live up to the expectation of a “sneaky good backcourt” and he plays in at least 70 games. The Rondo signing, and playing alongside world destroyers in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, should alleviate primary ball handler pressure and cut down to those head scratching turnovers, like the pair he had against Denver back in April that eliminated New Orleans from the postseason. Maybe Rondo’s presence allows Holiday to masquerade as a two-guard, arguably the spot he should always be playing, and lead to his best season to date as a Pelican.
And with the amount of money New Orleans invested in him, that should be the expectation.
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