Jrue Holiday has joined All-Star Anthony Davis in making a long-term commitment to the New Orleans Pelicans. If all goes as the Pelicans plan, DeMarcus Cousins ultimately will follow suit.
At the very least, the small-market Pelicans are now in position to play one full season with their own version of a “big three.”
The 27-year-old Holiday, who became an unrestricted free agent at midnight on Friday, agreed Saturday morning to a five-year, $126-million contract with New Orleans. Holiday’s agent, Jason Glushon, said the deal could be worth as much as $150 million with incentives such as being named an All-Star or All-NBA, or hitting various statistical benchmarks.
Holiday has spent the past four seasons with New Orleans since being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, where he spent his first four seasons. Because Holiday last played for New Orleans, NBA rules allowed the Pelicans to offer him a five-year contract, one year more than other teams.
The 6-foot-4 Holiday averaged 15.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 67 games last season. During his eight-year NBA career, the former UCLA standout has averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 assists.
The New Orleans Pelicans have not yet acknowledged Holiday’s new contract; NBA rules prevent those deals from becoming official until July 6. However, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry have made no secret of their strong desire to retain Holiday as the initiator of an offense featuring big men Davis and Cousins.
“He’s very much a part of what we need and what we’re trying to do,” Gentry said last spring, when the expiration of Holiday’s previous contract was looming. “That goes without saying.”
Holiday is coming off his first healthy season with New Orleans after missing most of his first two and parts of his third. However, he took leave last fall when his wife, former U.S. Soccer star Lauren Holiday, was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant. The Pelicans were hopeful that the support they provided him while he attended to his family would help sway him to stay.
In other free-agent news:
-- The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly reached an agreement to re-sign sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who led the league in three-point accuracy (45%) and averaged 10.8 points in 35 games after he was traded to the club by Atlanta.
-- Other point guards cashing in: Stephen Curry got $201 million from Golden State, Jeff Teague $57 million from Minnesota, Patty Mills $50 million from San Antonio and Shaun Livingston $24 million from the Warriors on Saturday.
That doesn’t take into account the $168 million, four-year extension offer John Wall is considering from Washington or the sign-and-trade deal the Clippers and Rockets made with Chris Paul. Among the top point guards still available, at least for now: Kyle Lowry, Derrick Rose and George Hill.
-- The Chicago Bulls have reportedly agreed to a four-year, $32 million contract with reserve forward Cristiano Felicio.