Jrue Holiday: 5 potential landing spots in free agency
Plenty of uncertainty surrounds point guard Jrue Holiday as he enters the open market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Jrue Holiday may be entering a very congested free agency market next week, with several teams seeking long-term replacements at the position.
With so much in flux, predicting where the 27-year-old will play next season is a difficult task.
During his eight seasons in the NBA, Holiday has entrenched himself as one of the most effective players at the position, securing an All-Star selection in 2013 and coming off an impressive 2016-17 season highlighted by averages of 15.4 points, 7.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Franchises in need of a starting-caliber point guard will certainly pursue Holiday, as he can command a max contract of four-years, $130 million from any other team in the league, while the New Orleans Pelicans can retain his services with a $176 million deal over five years.
As teams begin the yearly churn of their rosters, Holiday will likely land a very rich deal in free agency at some point in July. Here’s a look at five potential landing spots for Holiday once free agency begins.
5. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors may suddenly have a need a point guard, potentially paving the way for Jrue Holiday to Canada.
Even equipped with a five-year max contract offer, reports have surfaced about All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry having zero interest in remaining with the organization.
With a roster assembled to win now, Holiday could become the best fill in for Lowry, as he provides a similar skill-set.
With Lowry serving as one of the marquee free agents this summer, the future of Holiday has to wait until he is locked into a contract for next season. If Lowry wants to play for another organization, Holiday is an ideal consolation prize.
4. Utah Jazz
Two starters are slated to become unrestricted free agents for Utah this summer, but Jrue Holiday could join one of the most promising teams in the Western Conference as early as Saturday.
Last year’s starter, point guard George Hill, could garner significant interest, especially since he is a viable option likely to sign for less than the max.
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Hill is coming off a career year, as he posted 16.9 points per game while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from three-point range to go along with 4.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.
The Jazz could decide to move quickly on Holiday as a negotiating tactic to secure a long-term contract from Gordon Hayward, an All-Star expected to receive max contract offers from Utah, Boston and Miami at least.
With Dante Exum, an unproven prospect, as the only point guard with a contract in place for the 2017-18 season, Utah will need to act quickly if Hill lands a deal elsewhere.
The Jazz may possess the most potent combination, coming off an impressive 51-win campaign, featuring a potential vacancy at the starting point guard slot and possibly possessing the cap space to land Holiday.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
If Chris Paul ultimately decides to join another organization, a return home could be in line for Jrue Holiday.
The 6’4″ guard was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2008 while at Campbell High School in Studio City and spent his lone season in college at UCLA, where he met his wife.
The draw for Holiday could be even greater, with his youngest brother Aaron returning to the Bruins for his sophomore season. The drive from the Staples Center to UCLA’s campus is less than 30 minutes.
If Paul, an All-Star point guard of the Clippers in five of the past six seasons, pursues a deal elsewhere, look for the front office to act quickly to find another quality point guard quickly.
A return to southern California could be available for Holiday, but he would have to wait to see where Paul lands first.
2. Dallas Mavericks
The pitch for Jrue Holiday in Dallas is certainly an intriguing one.
The Mavericks will renegotiate Dirk Nowitzki‘s contract after they declined his $25 million option for next season, and his reduced salary could not only open up enough space for Holiday, but also his brother, Justin.
Negotiating a deal with both Holidays likely won’t happen until the team solidifies its frontcourt, not only by completing a deal with Nowitzki, but also agreeing to terms on a long-term deal with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, the player Philadelphia traded to the Pelicans for Holiday.
Re-signing Nerlens Noel, league sources say, is Dallas’ offseason priority, far ahead of their long-anticipated interest in UFA Jrue Holiday
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 24, 2017
Dallas has just $59 million committed for next season, and the team could still present Holiday an offer approaching his max even after securing deals from Nowitzki and Noel.
Seemingly each season, the Mavericks become a factor in free agency and for 2017, their primary target could be Holiday.
1. New Orleans Pelicans
Jrue Holiday has yet to test free agency since being selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Just before his rookie deal was set to expire, Holiday signed a four-year, $46 million deal minutes before the deadline.
This time, there is no clock ticking.
The additional time is exactly what the Pelicans can use to their advantage, placing an emphasis on the additional $44 million the team can offer over any other team in the league this summer.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has expressed his desire for the team to retain Holiday in free agency this summer, believing the presence of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, along with Holiday, could lead to his best season in New Orleans yet.
Five of the nine players currently under contract for next season are slated to earn over $8 million, so if Holiday is retained with a max deal, the Pelicans will have to round out the roster with players willing to take a reduced salary. However, it’s unlikely Holiday earns a full max contract, given his injury history.
New Orleans will likely make Holiday a priority in free agency, with several other teams hoping he becomes their starting point guard.