Landing Spots for NBA's Top Trade TargetsJrue Holiday: Atlanta Hawks
Jrue Holiday's future with the New Orleans Pelicans is difficult to read.
During an appearance on Complex's Load Management podcast (h/t Lonzo Wire's Jacob Rude), The Athletic's Shams Charania said the 30-year-old asked the team not to move him at February's trade deadline. He has yet to express any public sentiments to the contrary, and New Orleans, despite its inexperience at the top of the roster, remains well positioned to make immediate noise in the Western Conference.
Then again, the Pelicans' stint in the Disney World bubble could be interpreted as a cry for tempered expectations. They so clearly didn't have the defensive consistency or offensive firepower to navigate bogged-down stretches. It makes sense to shop an over-30 star at the peak of his powers who is one year out from free agency (player option) if they're not hellbent on chasing a postseason bid next season.
Suitors will come out in droves if Holiday becomes available, and the Atlanta Hawks should be among them.
Their roster is begging for someone who can get Trae Young moving off the ball—or just off the ball in general. Holiday checks that box. And Young, for his part, would do wonders for him. Holiday is a smidgen overburdened as a primary offensive engine. He doesn't have the luxury of a consistent hierarchical spot in New Orleans. Lonzo Ball doesn't look for his own shot nearly enough off the dribble, and the Pelicans haven't entirely handed the keys over to Brandon Ingram, at least not yet.
Holiday is an even tidier fit on the Hawks at the defensive end. They're not saddled with solely covering up for Young. They need a mainstay who can go punch for punch with the opposing team's No. 1 option almost every night. Holiday more than qualifies.
That he can juggle such Herculean assignments and still churn out something like 20 points and seven assists per game is mind-melting. Ben Simmons was the only player this past season who spent more time guarding No. 1 options and registering as his own squad's No. 1, according to BBall Index's Krishna Narsu.
If the Pelicans are open to talking shop, the Hawks are trade-partner nirvana. They could carve out more than $40 million in cap space depending on how they handle incumbent free agents; own the No. 6 pick in this year's draft; have young wing prospects to spare with Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish; can dangle John Collins; and aren't yet good enough that their future first-rounders want for "Imagine where they could land!" mystique.Atlanta also has some nice salary-filler deals should New Orleans be in the market for a big. Clint Capela—who, just so we're clear, is more than salary filler—is a non-fit with Zion Williamson, but Dewayne Dedmon could (maybe) provide some stretch at the 5 position if the Pelicans don't prioritize cap savings. Regardless, any proposal with the Hawks should begin with the No. 6 pick, Huerter or Reddish and then be fleshed out as needed from there.