Even with his old AAU teammate already shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the one-time All-Star is still giving “consideration” to signing with the Indiana Pacers, reports Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Holiday, who averaged 15.4 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.9 assists last season, has been widely expected to reach agreement on a five-year contract with the Pelicans after the organization fully supported his decision to take a leave of absence from the team in order to care for his ailing wife and newborn baby.
Only missing three games due to injury during the 2016-17 season, the 6-foot-4 guard notably turned in his healthiest season to date since being traded to New Orleans. This, after he was sidelined for 107 contests over his first three seasons with the team while dealing with a stress fracture and stress reaction in his right knee.
Though he hasn’t been as durable as Jeff Teague over his career, it’s obvious that he’s been a much stouter defender.
Notice, here, how Holiday stays attached to Isaiah Thomas rather than lagging behind the pick, as Teague so often did. By funneling his man directly toward Anthony Davis, who is playing a sort of one-man zone in the paint, the veteran guard manages to force Thomas to pass the ball out to the wing.
Part of what makes Holiday special on the defensive end is his size and versatility. He can closeout to the wing almost as well as he can corral guards and switching him onto the roll-man isn’t disastrous, if need be.
Below, not only does he push Amir Johnson off the block, he deflects and intercepts Al Horford’s pass.
These, of course, are cherry picked examples, but the the premise holds over a larger sample size. Consider this, with Holiday on the floor last season the Pelicans allowed 102.8 points per 100 possessions. That number would’ve been good for fourth-best in the league had it held over the full slate of 82-games. Without him? They would’ve plummeted all the way to 22nd.
Unfortunately, he isn’t going to be as much of an upgrade spacing the floor as he would be containing the ball.
Holiday continues to modernize his shot distribution, taking a career-high 29 percent of his field goals within 3-feet of the rim and 31.4 percent behind the arc. However, he only shot 30.4 percent on catch-and-shoot threes last season. That particular mark has the potential to be problematic, if Victor Oladipo continues to shoot 36 percent off the catch or Lance Stephenson struggles to prove sustainability from that distance.
On the other hand, it seems notable that the majority of Holiday’s shots came off 3-6 dribbles (31.5%), yet he averaged a rather low number of dribbles per touch (3.86) in comparison to other starting caliber point guards. This dichotomy seems to indicate that he’s choosy with picking his spots. While that is probably largely the product of playing alongside two interior threats in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, that trait could also accommodate Lance’s penchant for free-lancing, on occasion in certain lineups.
Since the 27-year-old’s age doesn’t do much to close the gap that was noticeably there between Paul George’s and Myles Turner’s respective windows, the presumably mutual interest between he and the Pacers further signals that Indiana’s brass isn’t interested in a full-scale rebuild.
“You can start over and bring in and challenge and add some good young players... but if you don’t teach kids how to win they will never learn how to win,” Kevin Pritchard said on 1070 The Fan’s The Dan Dakich Show, regarding the importance of surrounding young talent with veterans.
Per Shams Charania of The Vertical, Holiday is set to meet with the Pelicans immediately after midnight on Saturday. If he doesn’t come to terms, he will take meetings with other suitors over the next 48 hours.