Jrue Holiday

Southwest Notes: Holiday, Motley, Gasol

The addition of Rajon Rondo to the Pelicans‘ lineup has helped bring out the best in Jrue Holiday. William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes that the converted shooting guard is playing some of the best basketball of his New Orleans tenure.

Holiday has established himself as a desperately needed perimeter scoring option, especially now that the presence of Rondo allows him to focus on scoring. The extra offensive output comes at an ideal time for the Pelicans, as they’ve been without Anthony Davis for the past three games..

I think Jrue is one of the best. He’s easily one of the top three 1-on-1 players in our game today,” Rondo, who signed with the Pelicans in the offseason, said. Since Rondo has slid into the lineup, Holiday has averaged 20 points and 4.4 assists per game with a .483 field-goal percentage.

His aggression and just taking advantage of being a bigger guardHe’s one of the best two-way players in this league when he’s aggressive. That’s the guy we need for our team to go to the next level,” Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins added. “He’s been playing great, he’s taken our team to another level and we’re a tough team to beat when he’s playing that way.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks have added Johnathan Motley to their active lineup for the first time this season after the two-way contract signee averaged 22.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in the G League, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. “[When you’re in the G League] you can’t just try to be a guy and get everybody else involved,” teammate J.J. Barea, an alum of the NBA’s minor league, said. “You got to kill it. That’s how you get noticed.
  • The NBA has fined Marc Gasol $15K for dropping an F-Bomb on live television, the league announced. It’s been a rocky season for the Grizzlies.
  • The Rockets have looked impressive with Chris Paul back in the lineup, not only on offense but on defense. Sam Amick of USA Today writes that Paul’s defensive presence – in addition to P.J. Tucker‘s and Luc Mbah a Moute‘s – has helped Houston make a name for itself with the fifth-best defensive rating in the league.

Rondo Expected To Make Pelicans Debut

Point guard Rajon Rondo is scheduled to make his Pelicans debut Monday against the Hawks, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Coach Alvin Gentry said Rondo would likely be limited to six minutes of action, Guillory adds.

Rondo missed the first 13 games of the season after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia during the preseason. New Orleans signed Rondo to a one-year, $3.3MM free agent contract to be their starting point guard, with Jrue Holiday sliding over to the shooting guard spot. Holiday has mainly been playing the point in Rondo’s absence.

Rondo’s return is expected to eventually cut into the playing time of E’Twaun Moore and two other longtime veterans, Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson.

Pelicans Notes: Smith, Davis, Cousins, Holiday

The veterans minimum contract for Josh Smith, who formally signed with the Pelicans this afternoon after several days of waiting, will cost the team $13,156 per day, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. With a team salary slightly more than $122.7MM, New Orleans was roughly $1MM below the luxury tax before adding Smith. He is the latest veteran signing for a team that added Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen over the offseason, then reached a deal with Jameer Nelson after he was waived by the Nuggets.

“Being able to get this call, I feel like it was a second chance and a breath of fresh air,” Smith told Christian Boutwell of The Advocate. “I thank the New Orleans Pelicans organization for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to continue to do what I love to do.”

There’s more today out of New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans’ complementary players have hampered the pairing of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Although both big men are able to initiate the offense from the perimeter, the talent around them don’t shoot well enough to provide spacing, O’Connor adds. Ian Clark is the team’s best career 3-point shooter at 37.2%, and E’Twaun Moore, Nelson and Jrue Holiday are the only others above 36%. Front office sources tell O’Connor they don’t expect any significant roster changes from the Pelicans for the rest of the season, unless they fall far out of playoff contention by the deadline. He notes that the chances of Cousins signing with the Lakers when he hits free agency next summer remain very real.
  • The Pelicans will need a playoff appearance to improve their chances of keeping Cousins, suggests Sam Amick of USA Today. Cousins has spent eight seasons in the league without reaching the postseason and will be more inclined to look elsewhere if he misses for a second straight year in New Orleans. Amick writes that Cousins is currently the star player most likely to change teams next summer.
  • Holiday had his best game of the season Thursday in sparking a comeback in Sacramento, boosting the team’s hopes that he can handle his new backcourt role, writes William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. New Orleans is counting on Holiday to take on more of the scoring load, and he delivered 20 points in the win over the Kings. “Jrue was incredible,” Cousins said. “We’ve been pushing him to just be an aggressive guard at all times. I feel like no guard in this league can guard him one-on-one. He came out and he was aggressive and made some huge plays for us.”

Contract Incentives: Millsap, Lowry, Holiday, More

Thirty-four players around the NBA have incentives included in their contracts for the 2017/18 season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who notes that total doesn’t include players with trade kickers or bonuses for Summer League participation. Of those 34 players, 14 signed new contracts as free agents during the summer of 2017, including Nuggets big man Paul Millsap, who has several interesting incentives in his new deal.

Millsap will earn an extra $500K on top of his base salary if he earns a spot in the All-Star Game in 2017/18, and would also get a bonus for making an All-NBA team, per Marks. Interestingly, Millsap’s contract also features a handful of incentives related to his defensive play — he’d receive $150K for making the All-Defensive second team, or $250K for a spot on the All-Defensive first team. The Nuggets forward will also be in line for a $150K bonus if he appears in at least 65 games and records at least seven defensive rebounds per 36 minutes.

Here are a few other details of note from Marks’ piece:

  • Kyle Lowry can earn up to an extra $2MM this season based on a series of individual and team accomplishments. If Lowry appears in 65 games and averages at least 25.0 MPG, he can earn bonuses for making the All-Star or All-NBA teams, and for the Raptors reaching the Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals.
  • Jrue Holiday‘s potential likely and unlikely incentives for 2017/18 on his new contract with the Pelicans total $4.7MM. Playing in 66 games and totaling at least 2,075 minutes this season would result in an extra $510K bonus for Holiday, for instance.
  • Rudy Gobert‘s extension with the Jazz, which goes into effect this year, pays him an extra $1MM if he’s named to the All-Star team (not as a replacement), plus an extra $750K for making an All-Defensive team and meeting certain rebounding criteria. Another unusual incentive in Gobert’s deal? He makes an extra $250K if his defensive rating is below 100.
  • Dewayne Dedmon‘s new contract with the Hawks includes a fascinating incentive — the center will get $900K if he appears in 41 or more games and averages 16 or more combined points, rebounds, and assists.
  • As Marks notes, unlikely incentives don’t count against a team’s cap hit right now, but they’re considered when taking into account a club’s hard cap. For instance, the Pelicans have $5.4MM in total unlikely bonuses, which reduces their room below the hard cap from about $9.25MM to just $3.85MM.

Southwest Notes: Rondo, Rockets, Finney-Smith, Mavs

The pairing of Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo in the Pelicans’ backcourt should work out quite well and could turn New Orleans into a spoiler during the Western Conference playoffs next season, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders argues. Holiday has never been hesitant to shoot and he’ll find plenty of good looks at shooting guard with defenses focusing on Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, Davies continues. Davies notes that Rondo has led the league in assists three times and is an underrated 3-point shooter and rebounder for his position who can also contribute defensively by making steals. A quality season would also help convince Cousins, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, to stay put, Davies adds.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Billionaire Dan Friedkin has expressed interest in buying the RocketsMark Berman of Fox26Houston.com reports. Friedkin is owner and CEO of Gulf States Toyota and the president and CEO of the Friedkin Group. Forbes lists his net worth at $3.1 billion. Owner Leslie Alexander announced last month that the team was up for sale.
  • Forward Dorian Finney-Smith will have to earn a roster spot with the Mavericks by showing improvement in two key areas, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko believes Finney-Smith needs to become tougher around the boards and improve his 3-point shooting or else he’ll wind up in a salary-saving transaction. All but $100K of Finney-Smith’s $1.3MM salary is not guaranteed and the contract doesn’t fully guarantee unless he’s on the roster through January 10.
  • The Mavericks need to dramatically improve their rebounding to have any shot at a playoff berth next season, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com writes. Dallas ranked last in overall rebounding and grabbed the fewest offensive rebounds in the league. Coach Rick Carlisle told Sneed his frontcourt players have to get more physical. “We’ve got to get some monsters that push and shove, throw people out of the way and go get the ball,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to get more of those guys.”

Western Notes: Rivers, Hill, Holiday, Thunder

Austin Rivers refuted reports that Chris Paul wanted to leave the Clippers in part because of a strained relationship between them, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Rivers spoke to Paul by phone shortly after the rumor surfaced and Paul assured him that there was nothing to it, Amick continues. “Chris was just like, ‘This is a joke,'” Rivers told Amick. “So I asked him, I’m like, ‘You don’t need to come out and say nothing publicly, I don’t need you to do that. It’s just going to make it even more, now they’re going to drag it out two more days. I’ll take it. I don’t care.”

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings’ promise that they were not in tank mode next season helped to sway point guard George Hill to sign with them, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Hill signed a three-year, $57MM contract to join Sacramento. “A couple of teams I was in talks to really weren’t focused on winning,” Hill said. “A couple teams wanted to win. Sacramento called and said we have a lot of young guys but we’re not here to tank, we want to win and we want to do it the right way and if we take our lumps and bruises, we’ll take our lumps and bruises but we’re trying to win.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins is entering his walk year and Jrue Holiday is already lobbying him to re-sign with the Pelicans, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Holiday stayed with New Orleans by signing a five-year, $126MM deal as an unrestricted free agent. Cousins is no longer eligible for the designated player extension because the Kings dealt him. He can still sign an extension but can make more in free agency, Guillory notes.
  • Center Dakari Johnson is a candidate for one of the Thunder’s final two roster spots, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Johnson, the team’s second-round pick in 2015, has spent the last two seasons with the Oklahoma City Blue. A spot will be available if forward Nick Collison declines to re-sign or if the team waives guard Semaj Christon, Dawson adds.

Contract Details: Tucker, Holiday, Lowry, Collison

With more and more of the early free agent contract agreements being finalized, official numbers on those deals are starting to trickle in, and Eric Pincus, who operates Basketball Insiders’ salary database, is passing along the specifics on many of them. In instances where the official numbers are essentially identical to what was reported initially, we won’t pass along that info, but we want to provide updates in cases where new details surface.

Here are some new contract details on this week’s deals, with all links via Pincus’ Twitter feed:

Western Conference:

  • The Rockets split their mid-level exception between two players, with P.J. Tucker getting about $7.59MM and Zhou Qi getting the remaining $816K or so. Tucker’s contract is partially guaranteed in its fourth year ($2.6MM of $8MM guaranteed), while Zhou’s four-year pact isn’t guaranteed beyond year one (Twitter links).
  • As was expected based on initial reports, Jrue Holiday‘s total earning potential over five years with the Pelicans ranges from $126-150MM based on bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Dirk Nowitzki‘s two-year pact with the Mavericks will pay him an even $5MM in each of the next two seasons, with a second-year team option (Twitter link).
  • The first season of Wayne Selden‘s two-year minimum salary deal with the Grizzlies is fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • The Suns‘ new four-year contract for second-rounder Davon Reed is fully guaranteed for the first year, half guaranteed in the second year, and non-guaranteed in years three and four (Twitter link).

Eastern Conference:

  • Although Kyle Lowry‘s three-year contract with the Raptors can be worth up to $100MM, the base value is $93MM, with the remaining $7MM coming in the form of unlikely bonuses. Unlikely bonuses don’t count against the cap at this point (Twitter link).
  • The second year of Darren Collison‘s contract with the Pacers is only partially guaranteed. Currently, $2MM of his $10MM second-year salary is guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • The Hornets signed Michael Carter-Williams using a portion of their taxpayer mid-level exception. Since he’s receiving an even $2.7MM, the team doesn’t have a hard cap at this point (Twitter link).
  • Eric Moreland‘s three-year deal with the Pistons includes a $500K guarantee for year one. The deal starts at $1.7MM, which means it was finalized using the amount of the mid-level exception that was left over after Langston Galloway‘s signing (Twitter link).

Pelicans Re-Sign Jrue Holiday To Five-Year Deal

JULY 6: The Pelicans have officially re-signed Holiday, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 1: The Pelicans have reached an agreement to re-sign point guard Jrue Holiday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports that the two sides have struck a five-year, $126MM deal. Wojnarowski adds that the value of the contract, which includes a fifth-year player option, could increase to approximately $150MM via incentives.Jrue Holiday vertical

According to Wojnarowski, Holiday met with Pelicans officials with New Orleans late on Friday night in New Orleans, and while they didn’t make a deal immediately, the 27-year-old reached an agreement with the team just a few hours later. Holiday had been expected to meet with the Pacers and/or Knicks if he hadn’t agreed to re-sign with the Pelicans.

As Wojnarowski details, the Pelicans and Holiday developed a strong bond after the way the franchise helped the point guard deal with a family crisis last fall, when he missed the start of the 2016/17 season to care for his wife and newborn child. Head coach Alvin Gentry also has “tremendous trust” in Holiday’s ability to run New Orleans’ offfense, per Woj.

Re-signing Holiday was New Orleans’ top priority this offseason, particularly given the team’s salary cap situation. With more than $85MM in guaranteed salaries already on their books for 2017/18, the Pelicans weren’t in a position to create significant cap room to sign a replacement point guard if Holiday had decided to head elsewhere.

Because they held Holiday’s Bird rights, the Pelicans had the ability to go over the cap to lock him up, and now will have the mid-level ($8.4MM) and bi-annual ($3.3MM) exceptions available to add further reinforcements. They’ll also have a “big three” of Holiday, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins for at least the next year, until Cousins’ contract expires in the summer of 2018.

Holiday, the 17th overall pick in 2009, arrived in New Orleans as a result of a draft-day trade in 2013. He has been reliable and productive over the last four years when he gets on the court, though he has been plagued by injuries too, having averaged just 52 games per season. In 2016/17, the UCLA product averaged 15.4 PPG and 7.3 APG.

It will be interesting to see whether the Pelicans express any interest in Justin Holiday this week. The Holiday brothers publicly stated earlier this year that they’d love the opportunity to play together, and Jrue’s older brother is also a free agent this summer.

Jrue Holiday was the No. 14 player on our list of this year’s top 50 free agents. He’s one of several point guards who has already struck an agreement since free agency opened less than eight hours ago. Stephen Curry, Jeff Teague, Patty Mills, and Shaun Livingston also have new deals in hand, leaving Kyle Lowry, George Hill, and Derrick Rose as the top point guards available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Porter, Randolph, Millsap, Holiday

The Wizards‘ session with Otto Porter ended without an agreement, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. Porter plans to start meeting with other teams this weekend (Twitter link). That creates a potential opening for the Nets, who appear willing to offer the max of four years and $100MM, according to a post on NetsDaily. Philadelphia may also get involved, but the Sixers seem reluctant to make long-term offers. Washington has promised to match any offer for the restricted free agent.

There’s more late-night free agency news:

  • Aldridge has two more tidbits to pass along. The Cavaliers are interested in Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph and plan to call him today (Twitter link). Also, Blake Griffin‘s decision to re-sign with the Clippers means the Suns will intensify their pursuit of  Hawks forward Paul Millsap (Twitter link).
  • Jrue Holiday met with the Pelicans tonight, but no deal was reached, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. The two sides are expected to get together again in the morning.
  • The new $201MM supermax contract that the Warriors gave to Stephen Curry doesn’t include a no-trade clause or a player option, according to Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link).
  • Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons has gotten calls from the Kings, Clippers and Timberwolves and is ready to start holding meetings, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link).
  • In addition to Simmons, the Clippers plan to meet with Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari on Sunday and Jazz forward Joe Ingles this weekend, relays Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • There’s a strong chance that Celtics‘ power forward Amir Johnson will sign with the Sixers, a source tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnson has a history with Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who traded for him in 2009 as GM of the Raptors.
  • The Kings met tonight with Andre Iguodala and Patrick Patterson, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link).
  • The Timberwolves have put in a call to Ty Lawson as a possible backup for Jeff Teague, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The Pelicans, Thunder and Kings have also been in contact with Lawson.
  • The Grizzlies are the latest team to show interest in Kings guard Ben McLemore, relays Chris Mannix of The Vertical (Twitter link).
  • The Knicks contacted Suns power forward Alan Williams tonight, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Williams fits New York’s goal of finding players who can contribute on both ends of the floor, Begley notes.

Latest on Jrue Holiday

10:03pm: If Holiday leaves his meeting with the Pelicans without agreeing to a deal, the player will have a sit-down with the Knicks, Marc Berman of The New York Post relays (on Twitter).

9:26pm: Despite reports that the Pelicans are considered the front-runners to re-sign unrestricted free agent Jrue Holiday, the point guard intends to meet with the Pacers this weekend, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports (via Twitter). Holiday is expected to decide one way or another on New Orleans’ offer on Saturday, with an earlier report from TNT’s David Aldridge relaying that there are three other teams in serious pursuit of the 27-year-old. The scribe didn’t name the prospective suitors, so it is unclear if the Pacers were among those franchises he referred to.

It is also unclear if the reported bombshell trade of Paul George to the Thunder will make Indiana a less attractive destination now that the franchise appears to be in full rebuild mode. One would have to think that New Orleans is set up for more immediate success with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins on the roster, though, getting out of the brutal Western Conference may hold some appeal for Holiday.

If the Pelicans are unable to retain Holiday, it may be difficult to find an adequate replacement, since the club already has more than $85MM in guaranteed salaries on its books, reducing its cap flexibility. Holiday’s bond with the Pelicans is said to be strong after the way the organization supported him during a family crisis last fall.

Holiday appeared in 67 contests for the Pelicans this past season, averaging 15.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 32.7 minutes per outing. His slash line was .454/.356/.708.

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