The free agent point guard market isn’t exactly teeming with options for the Clippers, so the team’s best bet at addressing the need for a playmaker will likely be via trade. Fortunately, a former All-Star point guard whose timeline neatly aligns with that of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George has just been made available: Jrue Holiday.
Like Leonard and George, Holiday is a Southern California product who went to high school and college in Los Angeles. He and his wife Lauren, a UCLA legend, have local ties, so a trade to Los Angeles would make logical sense. Holiday is 30, just a few months younger than George, and is ready to win now. He could be a free agent next offseason if he declines his player option, but the cap landscape in the league suggests that Holiday would be better off re-upping or extending with the Clippers.
Holiday would make the Clippers an incredible defensive team. He made the all-defense team in 2018 and 2019 and can defend any position from one to three. He is ideally suited to handle ball-dominant scoring guards — just check out his game tape against Damian Lillard from the first round of the 2018 playoffs — and would give the Clippers tremendously flexibility on the defensive end.
Holiday isn’t a pure point guard; however, he is more of a facilitator than anyone the Clippers have on their roster, except for maybe Lou Williams. Holiday’s assist percentage of 28.4% would have ranked second on the Clippers last season behind his former Philadelphia teammate. The 11-year veteran has shot at least 40 percent on corner threes in three of the last four seasons while also getting to the rim frequently. He has become a more aggressive scorer later in his career, putting up at least 19 points per game in each of the last three seasons.
In his three healthy trips to the postseason (two with the 76ers and one with the Pelicans), Holiday has been an absolute killer. He is ready for a bigger stage should that opportunity present itself.
The problem, of course, is that the Clippers have given away most of their best assets in the George and Marcus Morris Sr. trades. If they are to put together a trade package, it will have to come from their existing roster, and that could be painful. New Orleans also doesn’t have any bad salary to dump, so the Clippers can’t help from a financial perspective. Nevertheless, the trio of Leonard, Holiday, and George is so appealing that it’s worth giving the Pelicans a call.
Option #1: Structure a deal around Ivica Zubac
Holiday for Williams, Zubac, and Mfiondu Kabengele
Zubac is LA’s best trade chip, an above-average center who is on a cheap contract for the next three years. With Derrick Favors hitting free agency, the Pelicans have need of another center to pair with Zion Williamson, and Zubac would immediately help their defense. He also has a built-in chemistry with a lot of the other former Lakers on New Orleans. New Orleans would have to really like Zubac to make this deal, because Williams is essentially cap filler, and Kabengele is a young asset who hasn’t proven anything.
The Clippers probably have to add a sweetener here, potentially the 2023 Detroit second-rounder, Terance Mann, and/or Landry Shamet. They’d also have to find a new starting center, maybe even giving their MLE to Favors. But they’d also be able to go small quite effectively with Holiday at one of the guard spots.
Option #2: Go for broke and get J.J. Redick, too
Holiday and Redick for Zubac, Williams, Patrick Beverley, Kabengele and Shamet
Shamet had a disappointing second season with the Clippers, one that featured numerous role changes, injuries, and a COVID-19 diagnosis. He could still turn into the sharpshooter that greases a halfcourt offense, but Redick already is that. The former Clipper is an absolute flamethrower from distance, even at age 36. The Clippers would be making a huge risk by sacrificing essentially all of their future flexibility, but they’re almost at that point anyway. A five-man unit of Holiday, Redick, George, Leonard, and Morris to close games is quite deadly.
Option #3: Route Holiday to Indiana to get Myles Turner
Clippers get: Turner
Pacers get: Holiday
Pelicans get: Zubac, Williams, Kabengele
This is basically the same trade as the first option from the Pelicans’ point of view, but the Clippers get a center to replace Zubac instead of a point guard. Turner isn’t as good of a player as Holiday, but he’s a floor-spacing center who has consistently rated well defensively. That’s a valuable archetype to put next to the Clippers’ existing stars. The machinations would be a little more challenging because the Clippers wouldn’t want to surrender as much to get Turner, so maybe the Pelicans could send one of their young guards back to L.A.
The other beauty of this trade is that it gets all three Holiday brothers in Indiana. That would make the looming prospect of Holiday’s free agency less daunting for the Pacers.
Do you think the Clippers should make a deal for Jrue Holiday? Could he be the piece to firmly vault this team into title contention?