The New Orleans Pelicans were at the center of last year's NBA trade deadline by virtue of Anthony Davis' request to be moved. They once again have the best player conceivably on the market this season in Jrue Holiday. The difference, however, is that Holiday is in no rush to find a new team.
Holiday, a former All-Star and one of the NBA's best defensive guards, has reportedly made it clear that he is happy in New Orleans according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania's report also indicates that Holiday wants to see how the Pelicans, who have had Zion Williamson for only four games so far, play the rest of the season before making any long-term decisions on his future. That suits the Pelicans just fine, as vice president of basketball operations David Griffin reportedly wants to see this roster play together for an entire season.
Holiday is far from the only meaningful veteran contenders will try to poach off of the Pelicans' roster. JJ Redick would certainly garner plenty of interest among shooting-needy playoff teams, and Derrick Favors, on an expiring contract, could help anyone that needs more size. At the moment, it doesn't appear as though any of the three are available, but Griffin's resolve on that stance could be tested over the next week.
The Pelicans currently trail the Memphis Grizzlies by five games for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The two teams play tonight in New Orleans. Afterward, the Grizzlies get two relatively easy games against the Detroit Pistons and the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks, while the Pelicans travel to Houston to face the Rockets before hosting the 41-6 Milwaukee Bucks in their final games before the deadline. The schedule gets substantially easier for New Orleans from there and much harder for Memphis as well.
But there is a very real scenario looming in the week ahead of the trade deadline in which the Pelicans trail the Grizzlies by seven or eight full games in the schedule with only two months to play, and that doesn't even factor in the teams between them in the standings such as the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, who won't go down without a fight.
In a perfect world, the Pelicans would have had a healthy version of this roster available all season and seen it contend for a playoff spot. But in reality, the Pelicans might find themselves out of realistic playoff contention in the next week, and if that is the case, they will at least need to consider the possibility of trading their older players to continue to add younger ones to their existing core.
It would take a substantial offer to pry Holiday loose under any circumstances, but if the next week goes a certain way, such an offer might at least tempt Griffin in a way none have so far. Charania lists the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat as potential suitors, and if New Orleans has a chance to add a young player like Kendrick Nunn or Michael Porter Jr. with its playoff chances already gone, it is a path the Pelicans should absolutely consider no matter how badly Holiday wants to stay in New Orleans.