If all goes according to plan, the Boston Celtics will add another former All-Star to their starting lineup. But in order to pry Jrue Holiday away from the New Orleans Pelicans, Danny Ainge will have to get creative.
Ironically, with their sights set on acquiring the star guard, the Celtics may move on from a highly-paid star of their own.
Jrue Holiday has developed into a star in New Orleans
Jrue Holiday may have started his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he has become a household name thanks to his strong play for the Pelicans.
After entering the league as the 17th overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound guard went on to start 276 games for the 76ers. Holiday earned his first (and only) NBA All-Star berth in 2012-13 when he averaged 17.7 points, 8.0 assists, and 1.6 steals.
However, Philadelphia traded Holiday to New Orleans during the offseason in exchange for Nerlens Noel and a first-round draft pick. Injuries kept the talented guard off the court in his first two years with the Pelicans. Since then, though, Holiday has become one of the team’s top players.
While his offensive game certainly deserves praise, the 30-year-old has earned widespread respect for his defensive prowess. Holiday earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors in 2018. He earned second-team honors the following year.
But with the veteran set to make more than $50 million over the next two seasons, the Pelicans have explored trading their longest-tenured player.
Boston has its sights set on Holiday
With Jrue Holiday on the trading block, the Celtics have emerged as a possible landing spot. In fact, Kevin O’Connor reported an interesting trade scenario that could take place involving the Pelicans guard in his 2020 NBA Mock Draft on The Ringer.
“The Celtics have offered up their three first-round picks (nos. 14, 26, and 30) in trades to try and move into the lottery, but multiple league sources say they intend to reroute that pick to the Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday,” O’Connor wrote.
However, Boston must clear a significant hurdle in order to facilitate a trade with New Orleans.
“If Boston is able to acquire the necessary assets, it’d still need to add salaries to make a deal work,” O’Connor explained.
While Kemba Walker’s name did get mentioned as a potential moving piece, the Celtics could also include Gordon Hayward in a potential deal. In fact, his time in Boston could be coming to an end sooner than later.
The Celtics may trade away a former All-Star of their own
In 2017, the Celtics signed Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128 million contract. But due to injuries, the former Utah Jazz star hasn’t been able to live up to that lucrative deal.
In three seasons in Boston, the 30-year-old has played just 125 regular-season games. Hayward has averaged just 13.9 points since joining the Celtics.
His future with the team remains murky. He can opt-in and play out the final year of his deal, or he can pass up on a $34 million payday in order to land a long-term contract elsewhere.
Given the presence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, moving on from Hayward may not be such a bad idea. If Boston has a chance to upgrade its roster by trading the veteran, it shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
After all, the addition of Hayward hasn’t brought the Celtics any closer to winning an NBA title.
Maybe getting rid of him will.