Jrue Holiday

Western Notes: Crowder, Lakers, Holiday, Bates-Diop

Former Jazz forward Jae Crowder took time this week to discuss his time with the team, detailing the close friendships he made and the impact head coach Quin Snyder had on him.

Crowder, who was acquired by the Grizzlies last July, also discussed Memphis’ slow start to the 2019/20 season in an interview with Aaron Falk of Jazz.com.

“We’ve come out on the losing end, so obviously we’re not where we want to be but we’re figuring it out,” Crowder said. “We’re competing at a high level and trying to do what it takes to win games. At this level, with a young team, it’s just hard to win games. We’re learning from our losses and wins and trying to build every day.”

The Jazz traded for Crowder in February of 2018, giving the 29-year-old roughly one-and-a-half seasons with the franchise. He averaged 11.9 points in 80 games for the team last season, quickly gaining respect from the fans and confidence from the coaching staff.

“He just gave me a mindset that added on to fueling my fire,” Crowder said of Snyder. “To always compete at a high level and always embrace wherever you’re at in life. He gave me a role on that team and I’m appreciative of him. I’ve told him that personally. I appreciate him believing in me, believing in my effort and coaching me the way that he coached me.”

There’s more from the Western Conference today:

  • The Lakers tied a team record on Friday for the best start in franchise history, extending their current record to 17-2. The team recorded their 10th straight win with a victory over Washington, led by the likes of Anthony Davis (26 points, 13 rebounds) and LeBron James (23 points, 11 assists). “Obviously, this is a historic franchise; they have done so many great things,” Davis said, as relayed by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. “To be a part of a franchise like this is definitely amazing. I just want to leave my mark here and just keep it going. Obviously, our goal is to add another banner here. It’s something we feel like we can do, and if we do that, to be a part of that would be nothing but great.”
  • Andre Iguodala, one of the league’s all-time great defenders, has tabbed Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday as the best defensive player in the NBA today. “Best defender in the league… @Jrue_Holiday11”, Iguodala wrote on social media. Holiday is consistently mentioned as one of the toughest defenders in the NBA, with the 29-year-old making the All-Defensive Second Team in 2019 and All-Defensive First Team in 2018.
  • Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop is slowly but surely forcing his way into the team’s rotation, Chris Hine writes for the Star Tribune. Bates-Diop, 23, was drafted 48th overall in 2018 by the Wolves after spending four seasons at Ohio State. He’s averaged 8.9 points in seven games (17.9 MPG) this season.

Southwest Notes: Wright, Mavs, Pelicans, Ingram

Guard Delon Wright said the Grizzlies played hardball with him this summer during his restricted free agency, which led him to sign an offer sheet with the Mavericks, according to David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis agreed to a sign-and-trade, receiving a pair of second-round picks, after Wright signed the three-year, $27MM contract. “They were playing hardball,” Wright said. “So I had to go find another deal. They were more than willing to accommodate me with a trade. So that was cool.” Wright is averaging 8.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 3.9 APG while playing in all nine games with Dallas this season.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle used seven different starting lineups in the first nine games but he’s hoping to get that settled soon, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. “I’ll keep looking at it,” Carlisle said. “I’m open to getting something consistent, but we talked about this from the beginning that the way we’re structured we’ll probably need to be flexible and fluid. The guys have handled it well.” Ten players have started at least once, with Luka Doncic being the only player who has started all nine games.
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry finds himself with a similar predicament, as NBA.com relays. Gentry has used nine players in the lineup through the first nine games. New Orleans won just its second game of the season on Saturday. “Well, we can do one of two things, and we’ve changed a little bit schematically what we are trying to do. The next step is we have to find somebody that will do it,” he said. “We will start playing different combinations of guys, like we did (Saturday). That’s not a threat, it’s just what you’ve got to do as a coach.”
  • With Zion Williamson sidelined, Brandon Ingram has emerged as the No. 1 Pelicans‘ scoring option ahead of Jrue Holiday, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times Picayune notes. Ingram is averaging 25.9 PPG and 3.9 APG. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer and if he maintains this level of play, the Pelicans will have to offer or match a maximum contract for him, Kushner adds.

Pelicans Notes: Williamson, Griffin, Offseason

Pelicans players, coaches and executives alike are trying to shield phenom Zion Williamson from as much of the pressure and spotlight that comes with being the most-hyped player since LeBron James that they can, but it may be a futile endeavor, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Vardon admits it’s an admirable strategy, to try to create an environment in which Williamson matures into an adult naturally, to the degree that’s possible as a professional basketball player. But it’s hard to convince people that this is Jrue Holiday‘s team when everybody and their mother at media day only wants to hear from Zion, even if it meant waiting after the Pels purposely didn’t bring him out until later.

“He’s still 19, a very young 19,” Pelicans’ Executive VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. “I think Zion is finding more comfort just with himself as a man, as a person. And that’s really important to us. We don’t have expectations that we are hoisting on him with the players. It’s really about finding himself, finding comfort with his teammates, finding his role and we’re blessed. All Zion wants to do is win.”

But whatever Griffin says, the NBA didn’t “put (the Pelicans) on national TV 30 times” because of anybody but Zion, and New Orleans knows this. So try as they might, the Pelicans probably won’t be able to protect Williamson from what’s coming at him this season.

There’s more news this evening from the Big Easy:

  • As training camp gets underway, William Guillory of The Athletic writes that the Pelicans’ uncertainty entering camp might be higher than it is with any other NBA franchise, as New Orleans only returns five of 20 players from last season’s roster – Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Darius Miller, Jahlil Okafor, and Frank Jackson.
  • Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com explores how Griffin was able to make good on his promise to bring multiple, accomplished NBA veterans to New Orleans when he took over in April. One example? Griffin managed to bring in J.J. Redick, Derrick Favors, and Nicolo Melli, a trio that boasts a combined 30-plus seasons of professional experience.
  • ICYMI, Luke Adams took a look at how New Orleans was able to successfully transition from one franchise player to another in the span of a few months, among other Pelicans’ related tidbits, as part of our 2019 Offseason in Review series.

Pelicans Notes: Ingram, Ball, Redick, G League

Former Lakers Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, whose 2018/19 seasons ended early due to health issues, have been full participants in the Pelicans‘ voluntary offseason workouts in New Orleans, a source tells Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com.

Ingram was shut down in March due to a blood clot, while Ball hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since January as a result of an ankle injury. The fact that both players are participating in workouts without restrictions is great news for the Pelicans, who acquired the duo – plus Josh Hart and a handful of draft picks – in the summer’s blockbuster Anthony Davis trade.

Ingram is technically eligible to sign a rookie scale extension up until October 21, the day before the regular season begins. However, the Pelicans are unlikely to make a long-term commitment to him before he appears in a single regular season game for the club. In the 2020 offseason, after New Orleans’ decision-makers have had a full year to evaluate the duo, Ingram will be a restricted free agent and Ball will be eligible for an extension of his own.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Appearing on ESPN’s Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe this week, new Pelicans sharpshooter J.J. Redick cited a desire to play with Jrue Holiday as one reason why he signed with New Orleans, despite the fact that he didn’t have a pre-existing relationship with Holiday and hadn’t played with him in the past. Redick also said that he hopes to play a lot for the Pelicans this season, but doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench.
  • The Erie BayHawks – New Orleans’ new G League affiliate – confirmed this week in a press release that Marc Chasanoff will be the team’s general manager. The BayHawks also announced several other members of their basketball operations staff, including Billy Campbell as assistant GM.
  • After helping to build up the Long Island Nets during his time in Brooklyn, new Pelicans assistant GM Trajan Langdon will look to do the same with New Orleans’ new G League team. William Guillory of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the first steps Langdon is taking toward that goal this year.
  • We passed along a few more notes on the Pelicans on Tuesday, including a report on the team applying for a disabled player exception.

Pelicans Notes: Holiday, Melli, Projections

The Pelicans will look much different this season after trading away Anthony Davis over the summer. However, the vibe in New Orleans appears to be on the upswing with executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin leading the franchise.

“I feel like the whole vibe, the whole attitude in the facility and with the staff has just been different,” Jrue Holiday said (via Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com). “It definitely feels like people are ready and excited. It’s been like that ever since Griff has come into place.”

Here’s more from New Orleans:

  • Holiday (same piece) said that Griffin is “putting his money where his mouth is,” with the help of team ownership, referring to the upgrades the Pelicans made to their practice facility. Holiday added that he felt like he was walking into a brand new facility when he returned from offseason workouts in Los Angeles.
  • Nicolo Melli, who signed with the Pelicans after playing in Europe for over a decade, is expected to be a highly-valued glue guy in New Orleans, as Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com relays. “A guy like Nicolo, you can look at his stat line and be like, ‘I don’t understand the intrigue from the NBA for the last three years.’ But it’s what he brings – he’s a team-first guy, a winner. He’s highly motivated and a competitor,” GM Trajan Langdon said. “Those are the kind of people we want here, to be a part of the Pelicans organization. He’s another guy who’s going to make people better, on and off the court.”
  • FiveThirtyEight’s model indicates that the new-look Pelicans could live up to the hype, as Chris Herring passes along. Herring writes that it’s not a total long shot that New Orleans finds its way into the playoffs in year one post-Davis.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, Ball, Holiday, J. Johnson

Zion Williamson appeared to be fully healed from a bruised knee during a promotional appearance today in Harlem, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The first pick in this year’s draft performed two acrobatic dunks during the 15-minute session, delighting the crowd and a few fortunate youngsters who will appear alongside him in an ad for Air Jordans.

Williamson has been out of the spotlight since concerns about his knee ended his Summer League stint after one half. However, the Pelicans called it minor at the time, and Bondy said he looked to be 100% today as he soared to the hoop.

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • During his appearance this week on teammate Josh Hart‘s LightHarted Podcast, Lonzo Ball said he is looking forward to teaming with Jrue Holiday in the Pelicans’ backcourt (hat tip to Christian Rivas of Lonzo Wire). Ball and Holiday both finished in the top 10 in Defensive Real Plus-Minus rating last season, and both were among the top five in 2017/18. “Jrue is one of the most underrated players, in my opinion; I can’t wait to play with him on both sides of the court,” Ball said. “That’s going to be a lot of fun.”
  • Although the Pelicans could use another veteran presence, it’s unlikely that they’ll be the team to sign Joe Johnson, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. New Orleans already has 18 players under contract, including both two-way slots, plus reported deals with Jalen AdamsJavon Bess and Aubrey Dawkins. The team may get a Disabled Player Exception in the wake on an injury to Darius Miller, but Guillory expects his playing time to go to somebody already on the roster, such as Kenrich Williams or Nicolo Melli.
  • The Pelicans told Williamson and fellow rookie big man Jaxson Hayes to be careful about bulking up over the offseason, Guillory adds in the same piece. The organization believes both players, who are still only 19, may grow a few more inches and they don’t want extra weight to make them more susceptible to injuries in the future.

Thunder Leveraged Clippers, Raptors In George Trade Talks

In what ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski describes as a “wild night of negotiations,” Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti leveraged the Clippers and Raptors off one another in Paul George trade talks as the Clippers tried to secure a commitment from Kawhi Leonard.

League sources tell Wojnarowski that the Clippers’ top decision-makers, owner Steve Ballmer, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, and GM Michael Winger, “harbored fears” that the Raptors and Thunder were close to reaching a deal that would have sent George to Toronto.

Those fears – and their belief that they’d get a commitment from Leonard if they could land George – prompted the Clippers to surrender a substantial package headlined by young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round picks (plus two pick swaps), which the Raptors couldn’t match.

According to Wojnarowski’s report, Presti pursued a deal with the Raptors that would have sent both George and Russell Westbrook to Toronto, with Pascal Siakam as the centerpiece of the deal. However, Raps president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri balked.

Woj doesn’t offer additional details on what the Thunder were seeking from the Raptors, but a trade would’ve had to feature significant expiring salaries (likely at least Kyle Lowry plus one of Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka). Given the package the Thunder eventually got from the Clippers, it presumably would’ve had to include a boatload of draft picks as well.

George was believed to be willing to join the Raptors if Toronto had worked out a deal for him and if Leonard was willing to stay, according to Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski notes in a tweet though, the Raptors ultimately didn’t have the assets to satisfy the Thunder’s demands, with or without Siakam. In other words, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets, the Raptors were being used for leverage and may not have been able to reach an agreement with the Thunder even if they’d wanted to. However, the threat of a potential deal with Toronto helped Oklahoma City get the return it wanted from the Clippers.

Here’s more from Woj:

  • To Leonard, the cost of a George trade for the Clippers was “immaterial,” according to Wojnarowski, who says that Kawhi believed PG13 was the co-star he needed to do battle with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles. The Finals MVP also had strong interest in playing for Doc Rivers, sources tell ESPN.
  • The Clippers believed that if they didn’t make a trade for George, Leonard was prepared to sign with the Lakers, per Wojnarowski.
  • Early in the free agent process, before the Clippers knew that George was the trade target Leonard had in mind, the team inquired on deals for Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday and Wizards guard Bradley Beal, but they weren’t available in trade talks, writes Wojnarowski.

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

[UPDATE: Davis trade will become a three-team deal]

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Exploring Multi-Team Anthony Davis Trade Scenarios

The Pelicans have started to provide potential Anthony Davis suitors with the framework of the package they’re seeking in return for their star big man, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, new head of basketball operations David Griffin is open to multi-team scenarios that would expand the pool of potential assets available to New Orleans.

The Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Nets are among the teams that have been in touch with the Pelicans since they began listening to inquiries on Davis, Wojnarowski writes. The Celtics also have interest in AD, though Kyrie Irving‘s uncertain future is a wild card in their potential pursuit. Based on the success the Raptors have had with their Kawhi Leonard acquisition, other smaller-market teams or unexpected suitors may also be emboldened to make a play for Davis, Woj adds.

[RELATED: Top 25 Assets Among Presumed Anthony Davis Contenders]

Based on conversations with front offices who have spoken to Griffin, Wojnarowski suggests that the Pelicans aren’t sure if a single team will be able to provide the package they want for Davis. A multi-team scenario that would allow the club acquiring Davis to flip some of its pieces for assets more favorable to the Pelicans is one idea under consideration.

According to Woj, Griffin is seeking some combination of the following assets: An All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential, and multiple first-round picks. As Woj explains, the strength of some of those pieces would have an impact on the rest of the package. For example, the better the player headlining the offer, the softer the ask for draft picks might be.

The Pelicans, who are looking to build around Jrue Holiday and presumed No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, haven’t given teams a specific timetable on when they want to finalize a trade, league sources tell Wojnarowski.

However, Griffin would prefer to reach an agreement to acquire any 2019 draft picks before June 20, since it would give the team a better opportunity to scout and meet with potential targets, per Woj. If the Pelicans stick to that stance, it could really accelerate the timeline of a deal, since the draft is just 10 days away.

Some teams with interest in Davis may also be motivated to complete a deal by draft night, since acquiring the All-NBA big man would bolster a club’s pitches to top free agents.