The New York Knicks may be able to talk Jrue Holiday into abandoning the sinking ship in New Orleans this summer as a free agent.
Things have not gone well for the New Orleans Pelicans since trading for All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. The Pelicans are 3-7 when Cousins and his former college teammate Anthony Davis start together.
So what’s going on? You would think that pairing the number five PER leader (Davis at 27.48) and number eleven PER leader (Cousins at 25.69) would lead to success, but not in this case.
The problem is New Orleans simply does not have enough shooting to surround their twin towers. They are 21st in the NBA in three-point percentage, making only 35 percent of their three-point attempts.
Cousins is currently hovering around just the league average of 35 percent from three-point range on the season. He’s still launching them up at nearly a five per game rate (4.8) this season.
The three-time All-Star is too talented in other areas to be spending that much time on the perimeter. In the post, in particular, where he is shooting 58.3 percent.
Teams are only leaving their man to crowd the paint and double and triple teaming Cousins and Davis.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
P.J. Tucker, number two on the Raptors, leaves Hollis Thompson on the perimeter, to double Cousins. He’s able to do this because Thompson shoots a bit over 30 percent from three. To put it lightly, he is far from automatic from long range.
The Mavericks know this. Just look at the paint once Davis releases his shot. There are four Maverick players underneath the rim.
The Pelicans are trying to avoid crowding the paint here by having Cousins on the perimeter.
When both of them are on the court, the results are even tragic. The team’s three-point percentage drops from a below average 35 percent to a dreadful 27.9 percent.
Here you have Thompson, Solomon Hill, and Jrue Holiday on the floor with the two big men. Cousins misses an open Holiday, and yet again, Cousins is contested by five Hornet defenders. The reason here? Not enough shooters on the court.
So what do the Pelicans do? You can’t just part ways with the most talented front court since the Spurs’ David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
Here lies the problem. The Pelicans have quietly been one of the worst teams in the league at managing their cap space. Omer Asik has over 30 million dollars left on his contract, Solomon Hill was just somehow given a 48 million dollar deal, and E’Twaun Moore was given 34 million during the same summer. The Pelicans spent 82 million dollars on the combination of Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore. Let that soak in.
If the Pelicans want to keep Holiday, they are going to have to offer him a max-deal, putting them well over the salary cap. This means the same roster, for the most part, will be back next season for the Pelicans. The same roster that doesn’t seem to be the right fit for Davis and Cousins.
If this does happen, there is an excellent chance that the Knicks will jump at the chance of signing Holiday.
With Derrick Rose set to be a free agent this summer, the Knicks are going to be in the market for a point guard. Chasson Randle and Ron Baker are two intriguing guards with mild potential. They are not, however, starting point guards.
According to Spotrac, the Knicks will have 22,304,407 million dollars to spend this offseason. This is assuming they renounce the rights to Derrick Rose and Sasha Vujacic. They are going to have to make some moves to offer Holiday a max-deal, likely moving Kyle O’Quinn and Lance Thomas to save about nine million in cap space.
Holiday joining his brother Justin in New York City would be a spectacle, to say the least, and would give the Knicks their best point guard in over a decade.
A month ago, when New Orleans made the trade, the prospect of Holiday leaving was unimaginable, but it has become evident that a change to the team must occur. To do this, they are going to have to be creative in re-tooling their roster. Holiday leaving may be part of this.
The ball is in the Pelicans court.