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NBA Free Agency: Justin Holiday may be necessary addition to retain Jrue but could be money well spent

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Should the New Orleans Pelicans pursue the eldest Holiday brother in the family?

Make no mistake, Jrue Holiday is New Orleans priority when free agency begins this weekend, yet his brother, Justin, may be the key to re-signing the Pelicans longtime starting point guard to a new contract.

Justin Holiday is the far less accomplished brother in the league, and with him being 28 years of age, odds are he will never be anything more than a good role player off the bench. He is coming off his first season where he surpassed the thousand minute barrier, but averages of 7.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 three-pointers do not scream impact player. However, when one looks under the hood, there are various positives, especially if you think about the way the New Orleans Pelicans are aiming to play next season.

Those are some very good rankings! In comparison, have a look at what the guards and wing players who finished the season in New Orleans posted in the same NBA Stats playtype categories as well as in another few metrics.

Player Minutes True Shooting % Spot-Up Percentile Cut Percentile Hand-Off Percentile RPM PER
Justin Holiday 1639 54.9% 83rd 87th 78th -0.33 12.7
Solomon Hill 2374 52.7% 55th 60th 90th 0.43 8.0
Jrue Holiday 2190 53.2% 42nd 89th 87th 1.82 17.1
E'Twaun Moore 1820 53.7% 66th 42nd 89th -1.82 12.1
Dante Cunningham 1649 58.6% 70th 24th N/A -0.93 10.2
Tim Frazier 1525 50.4% 46th 18th 5th -2.40 12.4
Jordan Crawford 442 58.2% 76th N/A 98th -1.66 17.6

Now this list doesn’t include Quinn Cook, who I think could be a huge factor in the team’s plans, but you get the idea -- the Pelicans have plenty of room for improvement in knocking down open jumpers, cutting to the rim and trying to score with the ball on the move. The offense around Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins must be able to excel in these areas!

If the Pelicans are intent on staying above the cap and no trades transpire, the maximum they’ll be able to offer Justin Holiday in free agency would be the mid level exception (MLE), an amount that figures to approach $8.4 million next season. This would represent an incredible jump in salary considering he was paid a hair over $1 million to conclude a two-year deal he received from the Atlanta Hawks, but as many can attest, he’s due a nice sized bump up in pay.

Read what our friends over at Posting and Toasting said about Justin in a season review article:

Holiday was a combo not readily found at MSG: dependable and durable. His silky jump shot, consistent production and willing defense immediately endeared him to the Knick fanbase. It didn’t take long for him to become an offensive (and defensive) catalyst coming off the bench, and he often ignited the second unit by hitting important three-point shots. Remember when the Knicks won all those games in like November? In a lot of those games, solid bench play helped them get just enough separation to hold on for wins. Holiday’s contributions to those wins is well noted. He did exactly what was asked of him. He was a competent 6th man—something the Knicks haven’t had since that time J.R Smith won 6th Man Of The Year.

He averaged a career-high 7.7 points per game despite his comparatively low usage rate. And by comparatively, I mean that his was 16.9 and Sasha Vujacic’s was 17.3. He grabbed 13.1% of defensive rebounds while on the court, highest among guards and a welcome contribution on a team who was mostly pathetic on the d-boards.

Holiday’s positive effect on the Knicks was hard to ignore. His on/off court net differential was +4.8 this year, which is pretty damn good. How good? The best on the team among Knicks with at least 500 minutes played. Notably, he appeared in all 82 of the Knicks games this season, so we can pretty much rule out durability and health as a knock against him.

If followers of the New York Knicks are raving about you in this day and age, you’re legit. Those poor fans have witnessed enough bad basketball in recent memory to spot the good apples.

Here, have a look at Justin’s highlights from a game against the Dallas Mavericks where he was draining three-point spot-up bombs, cutting to the rim and showing off dogged defensive effort — check out the block on Harrison Barnes!!!

In addition to these on-the-court abilities, think about how much of a positive it could be to Jrue and his game if his brother gets to share the same locker room, bench and city. It’s no secret that the two have dreamed about playing on the same team for a long time.

“If we can play together, that would be a dream come true and we’d be successful doing it,’’ Justin Holiday told The Post on Friday on Friday before the Knicks lost to the 76ers, 105-102. “We both want to win and both know each other’s game in and out. We both know what we’re going to get from each other when we play together. It just makes sense.

“I’m not saying just because he’s my brother,’’ Holiday added. “But I know when we play together, good things happen because we know each other’s game so well. We do play hard on both ends of the floor. When you have that at both positions, it’s going to help.”

We’ve witnessed Jrue Holiday really go through dominant stretches during his time in New Orleans. What if Justin Holiday, who is a very good role player in his own right, could help unlock the All-Star in Jrue on a much more consistent basis? How much would that be worth to the Pelicans? I’d argue quite a substantial sum — probably close to the majority of the non-taxpayers MLE.