The Dallas Mavericks decided to stop chasing in free agency…for about 20 minutes. But is Jrue Holiday the best player to focus the Mavs attention on this summer?
Ah, remember when we all thought the Mavs were done chasing big fish in free agency? After years of crushing disappointment in July, the team was finally going to take it slow and build internally. It was a fun thought, but let’s face it, the Mavs always will look for that game-changing free agent acquisition. It’s just a part of the Mavericks’ DNA.
With the draft fast approaching, the Mavs front office will have their hands full with scouting reports and contingency plans. But a report from ESPN writer Ian Begley says that the Mavs are looking even further ahead to free agency. More specifically the services of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday. So let’s take a look at the likelihood of this happening and his fit with the team.
The point guard position is currently regarded as the most stacked position in the league. There are a plethora of superstars at the point and nearly every team at least one with decent playmaking abilities. The Mavericks, however, are one of the few that lack a definitive starting point guard.
Deron Williams served the floor general for most of the season before being let go in favor of the younger Yogi Ferrell. Yogi still has room to improve his game, but at 24, his ceiling is fairly low. Mark Cuban has even made it clear that the Mavs need a “pass first point guard,” and Holiday appears to fit the bill.
This past season, Jrue finished the year averaging 7.3 assists a game with a career high of 8.0 APG in 2012-13. Holiday is an experienced player who is proven at running the pick-and-roll. Having him on the team would amplify the rim-running abilities of Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri, and most importantly, Nerlens Noel. The Mavericks desperately need someone who can run the offense now that D-Will is gone and there are no internal options to replace him.
Holiday is an exceptional passer, but it’s his scoring ability and defensive chops that put him into maximum contract discussion. In addition to averaging 15.3 point a game this year, Holiday also knocked down a healthy 35.7% of his triples. He has also made a name for himself as a rock-solid defender, capable of defending the PNR and using his quick hands to nab steals. This kind of all around positional talent would be tantalizing to any team, especially one so thirsty for a point guard like the Mavericks.
Like I mentioned, Jrue Holiday is approaching max money territory. His incumbent team is reportedly ready to give him the max or close to it. The projected salary cap next season is $102 million. Since the Pelicans have Holiday’s Bird rights and he has 7-9 years of service, they can offer him a contract at 30% of the salary cap with annual raises of 7.5%. This means New Orleans can offer him around 5 years and $150 million.
Now, they won’t do this because a) he’s not worth that based on production and b) there are injuries to consider. Holiday missed 107 games in his first 3 seasons with the Pellies. But fortunately, most of these were freak injuries and they haven’t seemed to slow him down at all.
In terms of money, the Mavs can offer up to 4 years at 30% of the salary cap, meaning about $28 million in the first season and 4.5% annual raises. The most Dallas can offer is 4 years and about $120 million. Again, he’s not worth this much money, but it will still end up costing a pretty penny to steal him from the Pelicans. Considering his injuries, a contract of about $88 million over 4 years isn’t unheard of. But this would require some salary finagling on the part of the Mavs.
For the 2017-18 season, the Mavericks have $59 million guaranteed on the books. Picking up the team options on Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Nicolas Brussino and declining Devin Harris’ brings that to $62 million. Add in Noel’s new contract (which I’m guessing will be around $20 million per year) and that will only leave about $20 million left over; not enough to convince Holiday to leave. But, if the team shed Dwight Powell’s contract, that would be enough for a max offer. The Brooklyn Nets might be convinced to take a young-ish player with upside if it came to that for the Mavs.
Bottom line, it is unlikely that the Mavericks will land Jrue Holiday. The team has consistently struggled to reel in big fish, and Holiday will be highly sought after this offseason. While he would definitely help the Mavs in next season’s playoff run, the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has made it nearly impossible for top players to leave incumbent teams in free agency. Here’s hoping the Mavs hit a homerun with the #9 pick in June.