Jrue Holiday

Pelicans Notes: G League Team, Holiday, Davis

A report way back in March of 2017 indicated that the Pelicans planned on launching a G League affiliate of their own for the 2018/19 season. Since then, there have been a handful of updates on the franchise’s hunt for an appropriate spot for that affiliate to play, with an offseason report suggesting the decision would likely come down to Shreveport, Lousiana vs. Pensacola, Florida.

However, during a recent radio appearance, Pelicans GM Dell Demps said that the club’s plans for a G League team are on hold for now, as Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days relays.

“Right now, we’ve put things on pause,” Demps said. “We’re trying to, you know, find the right situation, and the right city for the team to play is essential. Currently right now, you know, we use the G League and we’ve been using other teams that have G League teams and right now we just put things on pause until we can find the right home for us. … It will come in the future, it’s just we haven’t narrowed down the specific spot yet.”

With Shreveport’s City Council having voted against financing an arena, Pensacola looked like the odds-on favorite to host the Pelicans’ new G League squad, but based on Demps’ comments, it sounds as if the team’s search is ongoing.

The Wizards are set to launch a G League affiliate of their own in 2018/19, which will bring the list of NBAGL teams to 27 — currently, the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, and Nuggets are the only clubs without an affiliate in place or a concrete plan in place to add one.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Jrue Holiday has cashed in on another one of the incentives in his contract, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. By appearing in 66 games this season, Holiday triggered a $255K bonus to go along with the separate $255K bonus he earned earlier in the season for surpassing the 2,075-minute threshold.
  • In spite of DeMarcus Cousins‘ season-ending injury, this season has been a major success so far for the Pelicans, quieting speculation about the possibility of Anthony Davis‘ eventual departure. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype takes a closer look at how that discussion may resurface in future seasons, noting that losing Davis could even jeopardize the Pelicans’ long-term future in New Orleans.
  • The Pelicans reportedly intend to fill their open roster spot by signing Larry Drew II, as we detailed earlier today.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Holiday, Cousins, Wright, Mavericks

Spurs chairman and co-chief executive officer Julianna Hawn Holt has filed for divorce from former chairman and CEO Peter Holt, Tom Orsborn and Patrick Danner of The San Antonio Express-News write. The couple has been married for more than 30 years and their separation has raised questions about the Spurs’ future.

However, there is no intention to sell the franchise, which is valued at nearly $1.6 billion, according to a report released by Forbes.

“We are dedicated and committed to continued success,” Julianna Hawn Holt said in a statement to KSAT-12 in San Antonio, tweets Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Check out other Southwest Division news and notes:

  • In the Pelicans‘ win over the Lakers on Wednesday, Jrue Holiday reached 2,075 minutes on the season, reaching the minutes criteria bonus in his contract. Holiday will earn $255K thanks to the incentive, which had already been considered “likely,” tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • The Pelicans hit a rough patch after 2018 All-Star DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles, losing five out of six games as they adjusted to life without their starting center. However, a three-game winning streak keeps the team’s playoff hopes alive heading into the All-Star break, Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes.
  • Former Mavericks owner and co-founder Don Carter passed away on Wednesday, per The Associated Press. He was 84 years old.
  • Free agent addition Brandan Wright does not have a defined role with his new team but Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni knows his purpose, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “Insurance, mostly,” D’Antoni said. “He’s to me the type of center we like. He’s long, vertical spacing and athletic, can run. He’s another kind of Clint (Capela). We have Nene and Tarik (Black) being one type and them being another type. That’s the depth. He’s a good guy. He’s going to be a good locker room game. All that’s positive.”

Nikola Mirotic, 15 Others Become Trade-Eligible

Today is January 15, which means that trade restrictions have lifted for most of the rest of the NBA’s 2017 offseason signees. While the majority of those ’17 free agents became trade-eligible on December 15, there was a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasted for another month.

The 16 players whose trade restrictions lift today meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous teams this offseason, but they received raises of at least 20%, their salaries are worth more than the minimum, and their teams were over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them.

The most notable name in this group is Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. He’s not the best player on the list — Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry would be among those vying for that honor. But Mirotic is the most likely player to be dealt out of the 16 guys becoming trade-eligible today. He has been linked to a handful of teams already, including the Jazz, Pistons, and Trail Blazers.

Here are the 16 players becoming trade-eligible today:

With three and a half weeks left until this season’s February 8 trade deadline, nearly all of the NBA’s players are now eligible to be dealt. The only players still ineligible to be moved are those who signed free agent contracts later than October 15, plus certain players who signed contract extensions in the offseason.

Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor (January 17), Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson (January 19), and Pelicans guard Jameer Nelson (January 22) are now the only remaining players who will become trade-eligible between today and February 8. For the full list of players who won’t become trade-eligible before this year’s deadline, click here.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Hernangomez, Ntilikina, Holiday

Knicks center Enes Kanter isn’t sure if he will opt in for the final year of his contract, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. It was generally assumed that Kanter would not leave $18.4MM on the table but he’s having such a strong season, it’s no longer a given. “It’s always on your mind,” Kanter told Bondy. “But the season is going really well right now. It’s just a contract. I think people worry about it too much and it gets into their head.” If he opts in, the Knicks will head into next summer with virtually no cap space, Bondy notes. If he becomes an unrestricted free agent, the Knicks will try to re-sign him or pursue an athletic wing defender, Bondy adds.

In other developments concerning the Knicks:

  • Backup center Willy Hernangomez has not played in 10 of the last 11 games and he anticipates that something will be done about the logjam at the position, as he relayed to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I want to play,” he said. “I really want to be here. I love New York. KP (Kristaps Porzingis) is here. But I want to play.” League sources informed Berman that Hernangomez still has trade value but the situation could sort itself out in a different way. Berman speculates that the club will ramp up its efforts to deal Kyle O’Quinn if it nosedives in January.
  • The team’s matchup against the Spurs on Thursday will have special meaning to rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, Berman writes in a separate piece. He idolizes longtime San Antonio point guard Tony Parker“I’m playing against the best French player in history,’’ Ntilikina revealed to the media. “It will be a challenge playing against him. I never met him but talked to him a bit [after the draft] about the transition and defense in the NBA, a little bit about everything.’’
  • Bulls swingman Justin Holiday believes the Knicks would have taken him back if he had waited longer in free agency last summer, according to another Bondy story. Holiday’s former agent pushed hard for a substantial offer from the Knicks and even tried to make it a package deal with his brother, Jrue Holiday, a source told Bondy. New York wound up signing Tim Hardaway Jr. “It’s not like I hate the Knicks now,” Justin told Bondy. “I mean, I honestly believe if I waited something would’ve happened. But at the same time you never know.”

Southwest Notes: Gentry, Noel, Grizzlies

The Pelicans are a fringe playoff team in the Western Conference, competitive enough to keep striving for the postseason but not quite ready to shed the mediocre label and genuinely compete. Unsurprisingly, Pels fans have started calling for head coach Alvin Gentry‘s job, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

While axing a head coach is often the first knee-jerk reaction that fans – and sometimes teams – have when things aren’t going as well as they could be, this could be a particularly bad time for the Pelicans to let Gentry go. For one, it would display a sense of desperation that could send a negative signal to their pair of superstar big men.

Guillory writes that both the coaches and the players should be to blame for the Pelicans’ woeful defense. They’ve ranked dead last in defensive efficiency this month, futile enough to overpower any offensive strides the team has taken.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

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.”