Having a generational talent in Davis is surely a big reason to stick around a team that has struggled for recognition in the NBA. A year later, the move looked great as Holiday, Davis and Rajon Rondo (in playoff mode) surprised many by sweeping Portland Trailblazers in the first round series.
The team was expected to move on to another level irrespective of DeMarcus Cousins situation with the front office but things haven’t worked out so far and per the latest development, it is sure to turn worse. A combination of injuries to Nikola Mirotic, Davis and Elfrid Payton slowed the Pelicans after a very good start this season.
That contributed to the team’s woeful defense-ranked 26th- despite its third best ranked offense in the league. New Orleans Pelicans are 13th in the Western Conference standings and have very little chance to make the playoffs.
Thanks to Davis announcing his displeasure with the team and desire to contend for a title elsewhere according to his agent, the Pelicans have turned into a selling club at this point in the midseason trade schedule.
Coming into this season the club was targeted as one of the major buyers at this point just as it has been over the past couple of years bringing Cousins (in 2016) and Mirotic (in 2017).
Davis will be traded before the February 7 deadline or at the end of the season since he plans to reject a contract extension worth $240 million for five years and with the foundation piece set to be moved, all major pillars will be moved too. New Orleans pillars sure to bring in draft picks, cash considerations and younger players on cheaper contracts are Mirotic and Holiday.
Mirotic is needed on a title contending team in need of shooters like the Los Angeles Lakers or Philadelphia Sixers or a playoff hunting team like Detroit Pistons. Holiday’s market is sure to be reduced as a result of most teams in the league having long term picks at the Point Guard position and his salary.
Beyond this season, Holiday has three more years left on his contract which pays him $26 million on the average per season. Compared to what younger Combo Guards like Bradley Beal earn ($25 million on the average for the next two years), Holiday’s salary is a bit on the high side for a soon to be 29 year old. That means his market is likely to come from a dark horse contender looking to make the jump into main stream contention. Names like Indiana Pacers -especially in the aftermath of Victor Oladipo’s long term knee injury-and Sixers come to mind. One team that doesn’t readily come to mind is Utah Jazz.
The surprise playoff team the past two seasons has been in fine form lately after a disastrous start; Utah is in seventh place in the West after sitting in 13th place after the first month of competition this season. The Jazz lost 105-132 to Portland Trailblazers despite having all its starting players score in double figures with Donovan Mitchell’s 22 points leading the way.
On the other hand, Trailblazers had CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard score 36 and 30 points respectively. Aside the duo, only three players scored double figures for Portland. Utah has employed a defense first, ball movement heavy offensive play over the past two successful years but the team’s lack of shot creators is a problem. From Kyle Korver to Joe Ingles and Grayson Allen, Utah has shot makers but beyond Mitchell there is next to nothing on the roster.
Making a trade for Holiday would alleviate this problem and give Utah a realistic chance of progressing from the playoff semifinals. For starters, Holiday is averaging 21 points and eight assists per game this season which puts him ahead of Utah starting Guard Ricky Rubio’s 12.8 points and six assists who is heading to his 29th Birthday. While a host of teams would have problems dealing with Holiday’s salary, Utah isn’t of one of them since the team has just three players to pay salaries worth over $10 million.
Accommodating Holiday’s contract wouldn’t be an issue since Mitchell has two more years on his rookie scale contract and Derrick Favors $16 million for next season is non guaranteed. Making a trade for Holiday before the deadline is very doable since Rubio’s contract expires after this season and New Orleans need not worry about its financial sheet ahead of a major impending rebuild. With Mitchell and Holiday’s ability to direct offense, handle the ball and play off the ball, Utah would possess a dynamic backcourt to rock the hierarchy in the conference.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter