On Monday, shockwaves were sent around the NBA circles following the trade request of 5x All-Star Anthony Davis:
Agent Rich Paul has notified the New Orleans Pelicans that All-NBA forward Anthony Davis has no intention of signing a contract extension if and when presented and that he has requested a trade, Paul told ESPN on Monday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 28, 2019
Davis, of course, is firmly in the upper echelon of the league in terms of talent and production, and his impending trade will severely alter the landscape of the NBA for years to come. Whichever franchise acquires the standout big man will undoubtedly be propelled into playoffs (and likely even championship) contending status for the foreseeable future, but the Sixers interest should lie in the Pelicans’ beta dog- Jrue Holiday.
A trade for Holiday would represent a reunion of sorts, as the dynamic combo guard was drafted 17th overall by the Sixers in 2009. Holiday played four seasons in the City of Brotherly Love- including an All-Star campaign in 2012- before being shipped to New Orleans in the infamous Andrew Bynum trade. During his time in Philly, Holiday became quite the fan favorite, winning fans over with consistent production and gutsy performances as he helped make the Sixers relevant for the first time since the Allen Iverson era.
Shipping the talented Holiday to NOLA in the Bynum trade was an egregious mistake, undoubtedly, but an error that could be remedied a bit with a reversal of destinations this season. A potential trade for the two-way guard wouldn’t just be for the sake of nostalgia, however, as Holiday would help improve Philly in a number of ways:
After a bout with injuries and personal tribulations spanning from 2013-17, Holiday returned to full health emphatically last season and is now playing some of the best basketball of his career. Fresh off capturing his first All-Defensive selection last year, Holiday has continued to impress with the Pelicans this season.
The former UCLA standout continues to be a handful for opposing playmakers, relentlessly applying pressure along the perimeter and routinely using his length to force highly-contested jumpers. The scrappy defender is also swiping 1.7 steals a game and his 83 total steals is currently sixth-most in the league. Slotting Holiday alongside Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid would create one of the most feared defensive tandems in the league and could wreak absolute havoc on the Eastern Conference.
Additionally, the defensive prowess of Holiday would pay huge dividends in the playoffs. With players like Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, and Sixers-killer D’Angelo Russell currently projected to cross paths with Philly in the postseason, the Sixers will need a lockdown defender like Holiday to stymie their output, just as he did star point guard Damian Lillard in the postseason a year ago.
Holiday’s contributions aren’t just limited to the defensive end of the floor, however, as the crafty guard is more than capable of handling his own offensively. So far this season, Holiday is averaging 21.2 PPG and 8.1 APG (currently fifth-most league-wide)- both representing career-highs for the former all-star. The talented guard displays excellent vision, patience, and decision-making when on the floor and hardly ever goes cold long stretches. His offensive efficiency would be a welcome addition to a Sixers squad that at times struggles on that end when stars Embiid or Butler don’t have it going.
Despite having a decade of experience under his belt, Holiday is still just 28-years old and entering the athletic prime of his life. Still, on the right side of 30-years old, Holiday is more than young enough to perform at a high level with the Sixers young core for years to come.
Ultimately what it boils down to for Philly is the actual availability and cost of Holiday. Would the Pels trade the dynamic guard in the midst of a career year? Perhaps. I believe a preceding Anthony Davis trade would certainly make the idea much more palpable as it would likely jumpstart a fire sale in New Orleans as they rebuild for the future.
Which leads to the cost. Would the Sixers have to part with one of their core members to acquire the talented Holiday? That depends on if you consider Markelle Fultz a core member of the future, which I think is a fading belief amongst the front office in Philly. Holiday’s bloated contract makes any potential deal rather tricky, but I think a deal centered around Markelle Fultz and future draft picks would be enough to at least get the conversation started.
Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports