Jrue Holiday

Southwest Notes: Zion, Grizzlies, Cauley-Stein, Holiday

Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williamson has been frequenting the team’s New Orleans facility – the Ochsner Sports Performance Center – during the NBA hiatus, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and Andrew Lopez. The Pelicans organization is hopeful that the prized 2019 No. 1 draft pick, now fully rehabilitated from an injury that cost him much of the season, will be able to help catapult the squad to a playoff berth.

The Pelicans, currently occupying the No. 10 Western Conference playoff seed with a 28-36 record, are 3.5 games behind the 32-33 Grizzlies, the present No. 8 seed.

“Those reps against the best players on a bigger stage will be meaningful for Zion certainly as a 19-year-old,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said noted. “I think it’s important for those guys to play some meaningful-slash-playoff basketball.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Due to soft attendance numbers during the 2019/20 season, the Grizzlies may be able to exercise an “early termination” option in the team’s lease on its publicly-funded home arena, the FedEx Forum, according to Geoff Calkins of the Daily Memphian. Team owner Robert Pera and local municipalities are anticipated to begin appraising various possible courses of action.
  • Since Willie Cauley-Stein opted out of the NBA season restart in Orlando, the Mavericks‘ depth at center has taken a hit, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. With the athletic center out of commission, Maxi Kleber will soak up most of the minutes as the prime backup for Kristaps Porzingis. 7’4″ Boban Marjonovic may seem some additional run. The team agreed to a deal with Trey Burke, a point guard, in Cauley-Stein’s stead.
  • Stalwart Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, a two-time NBA All-Defensive First-Teamer with the club, signed a controversially large five-year, $126MM contract with New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. William Guillory of The Athletic looks back on the negotiations between the two sides on that mammoth deal.

Kris Dunn Meets Starter Criteria, Increases Value Of QO

Bulls guard Kris Dunn has been deemed to have met the starter criteria as a result of the shortened season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As a result, Dunn will receive a qualifying offer of $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800 this offseason if Chicago wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We broke down Dunn’s situation in greater depth earlier this month, but the abridged version is this: A player eligible for restricted free agency receives a more lucrative qualifying offer if he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the season before he reaches free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the two seasons before his free agency.

Dunn, who started 32 games this season and 76 in total over the last two years, fell slightly short of the 41-game-per-season requirement, but the criteria became prorated due to the Bulls only playing 65 of their 82 games this season. As a result, the former No. 5 overall pick was considered to have met the starter criteria, increasing the value of his qualifying offer.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the $2.5MM difference could have a real impact on Dunn’s free agency. It’s possible the Bulls will be less inclined to tender a qualifying offer now that it’s worth $7.1MM instead of $4.6MM. If they do move ahead with the QO, it’s possible Dunn will be more inclined to accept it.

If Chicago doesn’t tender a qualifying offer to Dunn, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.

As Marks and ESPN have previously reported, the NBA and NBPA also agreed to prorate the criteria for bonuses and incentives available to players in 2019/20, based on the shortened season. As a result, the following players have now achieved bonuses, according to Marks (Twitter link):

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz): $250K for a rate of one rebound per 2.52 minutes in 62 games played.
    • Original criteria: A rate of one rebound per <3.2 minutes in 67 games.
  • Solomon Hill (Heat): $532K for 992 minutes played.
    • Original criteria: 1,000 minutes.
  • Jrue Holiday (Pelicans): $255K for 1,922 minutes played; $255K for 55 games played; $255K for 4.9 RPG in 55 games.
    • Original criteria: 2,075 minutes played; 66 games played; 3.15 RPG in 67 games.
  • Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): $858K for 32 wins.
    • Original criteria: 33 wins.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors): $200K for All-Star berth and 52 games played.
    • Original criteria: All-Star berth and 65 games played.
  • Patty Mills (Spurs): $250K for 149 three-pointers made.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM.
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers): $250K for 184 three-pointers made and .375 3PT%.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM; .370 3PT%.

Heat Notes: Free Agent Targets, Butler, Olynyk, Restart

Though adding reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to their exciting roster remains the top goal for the Heat in 2021 summer free agency, they have many other viable options if Antetokounmpo is unavailable or uninterested, according to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.

Even with the prospect of a slight decline in the 2021 NBA salary cap due to the coronavirus pandemic causing a league revenue loss, the Heat should still have the cap space to add a maximum-salary free agent next summer to go along their intriguing core of All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, plus developing rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro.

Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo, who trains in South Florida during the offseason, would be a great fit on the wing along with Butler, Jackson notes. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, and Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie number among Jackson’s other preferences for free agent additions to the Heat in 2021. Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Thunder guard Chris Paul may be available via trade.

There’s more news out of South Beach:

  • The Heat’s top free agent acquisition of 2019, All-NBA swing man Jimmy Butler, has returned to Miami this week in anticipation of a league restart as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reports.
  • With just eight non-playoff games left for the top 22 teams, the Heat have officially clinched a playoff berth, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). This means that Heat big man Kelly Olynyk will earn a $400K playoff bonus written into his contract.
  • The Heat’s status for the season restart was explored in another piece from The Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. Production of Heat game broadcasts will be handled away from the games to accommodate COVID-19 personnel restrictions. Center Meyers Leonard, who injured his ankle during the Heat’s last game to this point, on March 11, has recovered and will be ready once play resumes.

Southwest Notes: Curry, Pelicans, Harden, Mavericks

Despite having multiple opportunities to join the Warriors and play with his brother to this point, Mavericks guard Seth Curry has decided he’d rather compete against Stephen Curry and has turned down those chances, as he explained on Uninterrupted’s “Go Off” with Austin Rivers.

“I thought about it,” Curry said, as relayed by DallasNews.com. “Earlier in my career, I had some opportunities to play on the Warriors and go there and, obviously, take on a much lesser role having teams stacked the way they’ve had them the last few years… I always turned him down, I never really wanted to play on the team, I wanted to play against him. I’m going to be compared to him in some way, in his shadow whether I’m on the team or not so it’s going to multiply if I were on the same team. I’d like to create my own path and doing my own thing…

“He wants me to stay on my path and do my thing. He knows the kind of pressure I get under when compared against him, playing against him and being on the same team. He knows what it will be like so he’s kind of pushed me the opposite direction of going my own separate way.”

Curry, 29, is coming off an impressive season with Dallas, averaging 12.6 points in 24.5 minutes per game. He shot 50% from the floor and 45% from deep, raising those marks from the previous season.

Curry also discussed what it’s like to play with Luka Doncic, his thoughts on the NBA returning to play and more in the video.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • William Guillory and Danny Leroux of The Athletic examine the futures of Derrick Favors and Jrue Holiday, with Favors on track to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and Holiday set to turn 30 next month. Despite Favors entering free agency, the Pelicans‘ top priority is still re-signing Brandon Ingram in restricted free agency.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores James Harden‘s boot camp, detailing how the Rockets star has stayed in shape throughout the NBA’s hiatus. “I’ve been doing a lot of cardio,” Harden said. “I’ve got treadmills in my houses, weights, and all that good stuff. It really hasn’t affected me like it’s affected a lot of other players.”
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is making sure his players stay ready ahead of the NBA’s decision on whether to resume, as The Athletic’s David Aldridge writes. Dallas has yet to open its practice facility, with Mavericks players relying on virtual instructions, at-home workouts, yoga sessions and more since the league went on hiatus. “I don’t have any doubt that the players are very motivated to play, but (they’re) also, very smart guys, and they understand, I think, that we’re in a very serious part of our history, and things need to be handled the right way,” Carlisle said.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, Ball, Ingram, Holiday

It remains to be seen whether the NBA will be able to resume its 2019/20 season or whether teams outside of the playoff picture will get an opportunity to participate. However, if the Pelicans do get a chance to play this summer, Zion Williamson isn’t worried about needing several weeks to get back into playing shape, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes.

“Honestly, I’m ready now,” Williamson told TNT’s Ernie Johnson in an interview earlier this week. “I’ve been staying in shape, working on myself and just staying ready. You never know when the time is going to come when they’re going to say, ‘All right, let’s resume.’ I don’t want to have to look around at my teammates and say, ‘Sorry, guys, I’m not ready.’ So I’m staying ready for my teammates.”

Prior to the suspension of the NBA’s season, the Pelicans were hoping to push for a spot in the postseason, entering the home stretch trailing the eighth-seeded Grizzlies by 3.5 games but facing a favorable schedule. Williamson was disappointed to lose the momentum he and the team were building, but acknowledged to Johnson that the hiatus could be good for his body after he missed the first half of the season with a knee injury.

“It sucks because I had just come back after sitting three, four months without playing basketball or playing in an NBA game,” Williamson said. “As soon as I felt like I was getting going, this happens. It sucks from that perspective. But I think it’s a good thing because it gives me extra time to work on my knee and work on my body overall.”

Here’s more on Zion and the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans were encouraged this season by the instant chemistry on display between Williamson and Lonzo Ball, one of the centerpieces of last year’s Anthony Davis trade, as Lopez writes in a separate ESPN story. “We think the fit is really, really good,” executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said. “(But) I didn’t think it would look quite like this this quickly.” Griffin added that the team believes the two former lottery picks are “just now scratching the surface of what they can do.”
  • Retaining Brandon Ingram this offseason is a “no-brainer,” but the Pelicans may face a tougher long-term decision on Jrue Holiday, John Hollinger says in a conversation with William Guillory of The Athletic. As Hollinger explains, the team will have to decide whether it makes sense to keep Holiday beyond his current contract, well into his 30s, or whether it might be more prudent to shop him before his deal expires in the hopes of gathering assets that would better line up with a Williamson/Ingram timeline.
  • In the second part of their discussion on the Pelicans’ future, Guillory and Hollinger examine what a Holiday trade might look like if the club goes that route, and explore a few other topics, including Alvin Gentry‘s future in New Orleans and the team’s center spot.

And-Ones: Holiday Brothers, Green, NBA China

Asked in a group interview by Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) about the possibility of playing together in the future, the Holiday brothers expressed interest, even as Pacers guard Aaron Holiday acknowledged that it’s “probably unrealistic” for the time being.

Justin Holiday, who currently plays in Indiana alongside his younger brother on a one-year deal with the Pacers, said that the brothers probably get asked about the idea of teaming up more than they think about it themselves. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, meanwhile, said that he thinks the three brothers would “be good together” if they did play on the same team.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Top high school recruit Jalen Green, who decided to sign with the G League as part of the league’s revamped developmental program, will be provided with a full-ride college scholarship by the NBAGL if he wants to go to school at a later date, he tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).I’m still going to be able to go back to college and finish school,” Green said. “So, it’s not really that I’m missing out on college because I can go back and finish whenever I need to.”
  • In a conversation at The Athletic, former NBA team executives Seth Partnow and John Hollinger traded some big-picture, outside-the-box suggestions for how to change the league. Among the ideas proposed: Expanding the league to 32 teams, revamping the draft workout process, and introducing a “suck tax,” which would hit the league’s worst teams with financial penalties.
  • NBA China CEO Derek Chang is stepping down from his position, the league announced on Thursday in a press release. Chang, who assumed the role in June 2018, will officially depart after May 15, as the NBA seeks a new executive for the position. It has presumably been a challenging year for Chang, who had to deal with the rift between the NBA and China as a result of Daryl Morey‘s tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors.

Suns Pursued Gordon, Mavs Went After Gallinari At Deadline

Within his latest Inside Pass column for The Athletic, Shams Charania passes along details on several deals that were pursued but didn’t get done at the 2020 trade deadline, a month ago today.

According to Charania, the Suns made a “late push” for Magic forward Aaron Gordon, while the Mavericks did the same for Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari is on an expiring contract, but Gordon is under team control for two more years beyond this season and is expected to receive interest from multiple teams this offseason if Orlando is willing to move him, Charania says.

Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Nuggets attempted to make a “major trade” just before the deadline, sources tell The Athletic. Charania notes that Jrue Holiday was a player of significant interest for Denver, though it’s not clear if he was the player the Nuggets were pushing for at the deadline. The Pelicans never showed any interest in moving Holiday, per Charania.

Finally, while we’ve previously heard that the Lakers made an offer for point guard Derrick Rose, Charania provides some additional details on that offer, writing that it included fan favorite Alex Caruso and draft compensation. The Lakers would have needed to include at least one more player in that package for salary-matching purposes. In any case, the Pistons weren’t interested in moving Rose.

Although nothing materialized on any of these fronts, there’s value in knowing which teams pursued which players, since many of them remain under contract beyond this season and could become trade targets again down the road. Someone like Gallinari, meanwhile, could be on Dallas’ wish list in free agency, assuming the Mavs didn’t simply view him as a rental.

Scotto’s Latest: Gallinari, Nunn, Pacers, Nuggets, More

When the Thunder and Heat discussed a potential Danilo Gallinari trade leading up to last week’s deadline, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, and draft compensation were among the various assets that came up in talks, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. Miami reportedly wanted to extend Gallinari’s contract as part of a deal, but couldn’t agree to terms with his camp, which is one main reason the trade didn’t happen.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week that he believed the Heat could’ve acquired Gallinari without surrendering any of their young players like Nunn. So even though his name came up in discussions, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Thunder would have insisted on his inclusion, depending on what other pieces were involved.

While Gallinari remained with the Thunder for this season, Scotto suggests the Heat and Knicks could be among his potential suitors this summer. Miami clearly has interest, and created some cap flexibility for 2020/21 by moving Johnson and Dion Waiters last week. New York, meanwhile, will have cap space and is hiring veteran CAA agent Leon Rose as its new president of basketball operations. Gallinari is a CAA client.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits from Scotto’s look at the post-deadline landscape:

  • The Knicks and Pacers discussed a possible Marcus Morris trade. According to Scotto, a package that featured Aaron Holiday, Doug McDermott, and T.J. Leaf was “briefly kicked around,” but didn’t end up going far.
  • McDermott’s name also came up in discussions about a potential Pacers trade with the Bucks involving Ersan Ilyasova, says Scotto. It’s not known which team initiated those talks.
  • Before the Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, they called the Pacers to ask about Myles Turner‘s availability, per Scotto. Indiana has remained firm on keeping Turner, though many executives expect the team to eventually break up its Turner/Domantas Sabonis frontcourt.
  • The Nuggets discussed the possibility of trading Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez as part of a package for Bulls guard Zach LaVine or Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, sources tell Scotto. New Orleans set a very high asking price for Holiday, while LaVine was said to be “off-limits” for Chicago, so Denver didn’t get far on either front.

Southwest Notes: Holiday, Covington, Doncic, Lyles

Pelicans shooting guard Jrue Holiday was excited to remain in New Orleans through the trade deadline this season, as he explained to The Athletic’s William Guillory. The 29-year-old Holiday, considered one of the best defensive guards in the league, is on the third year of a fairly reasonable five-year, $126MM contract.

Holiday held appeal for several contending teams looking to shore up their backcourt ahead of a playoff push, including the Heat and Nuggets. The Pelicans themselves are just 4.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. With 2019 No. 1 draft pick  Zion Williamson finally debuting on January 22, New Orleans valued Holiday too much to make a deal just yet.

“I feel like what we’re doing here is something promising,” Holiday told Guillory of his season with the new-look Pelicans. “Obviously with the new management and the new guys coming in, we’re fairly young but we’re all very, very hungry. What we have here, we can build together.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • New Rockets forward Robert Covington and his very reasonable four-year, $47MM contract took him from overlooked role player to highly coveted glue guy very quickly ahead of this season’s trade deadline, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is optimistic that All-Star guard Luka Doncic will return to the court ahead of the All-Star break, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). “That’s not definite, but that’s the hope,” Carlisle said.
  • The future of Spurs bench big man Trey Lyles in San Antonio is appraised by the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald. Lyles is averaging a robust 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game for the club. He has suited up 51 games, including 41 starts. The 6’9″ Kentucky alum signed a two-year, $11MM contract with San Antonio this summer. Only $1MM of his $5.5MM salary next year is guaranteed.

Notes On Nuggets/Wolves/Rockets/Hawks Trade

Within the past month, both Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez approached Nuggets management about the possibility of being traded, a league source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Beasley and Hernangomez were key parts of Denver’s rotation in 2018/19 but had less consistent roles this season in large part due to Jerami Grant‘s arrival and Michael Porter Jr.‘s emergence.

Both players sought more consistent playing time and will now get the chance to earn an increase in minutes in Minnesota. Beasley and Hernangomez, both of whom are eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end, could even become long-term building blocks for the Timberwolves if they finish the 2019/20 season strong.

Here are a few more notes and leftover items on the 12-player, four-team trade that also involved Atlanta and Houston:

  • Beasley was a popular trade target leading up to the deadline — a league source tells Singer that at least 10 or 12 teams had inquired on the fourth-year shooting guard in talks with the Nuggets.
  • Although there has been speculation that the Nuggets intend to use the first-round pick they’re acquiring from Houston as part of a potential package for Jrue Holiday, that wasn’t the team’s plan when it made the deal, Singer writes in a separate Denver Post article. The general belief is that the Pelicans will hang onto Holiday through the deadline anyway.
  • The trade helps clarify a crowded rotation in Denver and gives the Nuggets some options for subsequent moves, says Nick Kosmider of The Athletic.
  • Daryl Morey and the Rockets are going all-in on their small-ball philosophy by essentially swapping Clint Capela for Robert Covington, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The deal shows just how unconventional Houston is willing to get, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who explores the reasons why the team was okay with moving on from Capela.
  • Meanwhile, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic examines what Capela will bring to the Hawks and what the move means for the franchise’s present and future. As Kirschner points out, Atlanta wasn’t willing to give up a first-round pick for Andre Drummond, but did so for Capela, who is locked in for several years at a reasonable price. Capela should fit in with the Hawks’ up-tempo offense and help anchor their defense, Kirschner adds.
  • Count Trae Young among those excited by the Hawks‘ acquisition of Capela. Getting Clint, it’s big-time,” Young said, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). “I already shot him a text and talked to him. I’m excited about getting him. … There’s been times late in games where we just couldn’t get a stop. All we needed was one stop. Having him makes our defense that much better.” Young’s enthusiasm is a good sign for the Hawks, since there were rumblings earlier this season that the second-year star wanted the team to make a move.