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NBA Free Agency: Pelicans in enviable but costly position to re-sign Jrue Holiday

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New Orleans will get the first opportunity to strike a deal with the desirable free agent point guard.

NBA: Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the New Orleans Pelicans have been granted the first meeting with Jrue Holiday and his representatives. If he agrees to the team’s offer, Holiday is expected to sign, but if the two sides fail to reach an agreement in due time, he plans to take meetings with other franchises during the first two days of free agency.

New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday will meet with Pelicans officials at the 12:01 a.m. ET start of free agency on Saturday, league sources told The Vertical.

If Holiday, one of the market’s top unrestricted guards and the Pelicans’ primary summer priority, is unable to reach an agreement on a deal to remain with New Orleans, he intends to take meetings elsewhere in the first 48 hours of free agency, league sources said.

Some view this news as a negative — that Jrue Holiday is putting the pressure on the Pelicans organization to meet his demands, otherwise, he’s going to force them to wait as he invites other offers. While it could undoubtedly play out like this, I can’t say that I agree with this line of thinking.

Over the last week or so, rumors have indicated the Pelicans are willing to talk about maximum contract dollars with him. Plus, Alvin Gentry sounded hopeful that the franchise was going to be able to get a deal done.

I’m of mind that Holiday’s representation has an expectation of the Pelicans terms and how it compares to potential offers across the league, hence their willingness to come to an agreement without even listening to another pitch in the league.

Conversely, Dell Demps and the rest of the front office are fully cognizant of the repercussions if they begin negotiations with offers well below Holiday’s desired threshold. In addition to lacking comparable player alternatives, both in free agency and across the trade market, there is immense pressure on New Orleans to field a highly competitive team for the 2017-18 season.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The results of this season are expected to have a large bearing on DeMarcus Cousins upcoming free agency in a year’s time. Many feel if the Pelicans vastly improve in the standings and make the postseason, the odds of retaining Cousins in New Orleans beyond his current contract increase significantly. And if the team can re-sign the outspoken superstar and Holiday, one should expect it would boost the odds of keeping Anthony Davis in the city for the longest of terms.

The obvious downside, of course, are the amount of dollars that the Pelicans will probably have to fork over to Jrue Holiday. A few months ago I was hoping a starting figure of $22-25 million would get the job done. Expect it to be noticeably higher, likely even approach the approximate $30 million maximum.

Despite dwindling interest across the league, make no mistake, it’s still going to cost the Pelicans to re-sign Jrue. The lack of competitive offers only means that Holiday is more likely to stay in New Orleans, not sign for a decidedly smaller sum than his asking price.

Hey, Dell Demps has been known to bid against himself in the past — he’s certainly not apt to suddenly change that tune now at this crucial crossroad in franchise history.