With Jrue Holiday missing time to be with his pregnant wife, where will the Pelicans go for an on-court replacement?
Jrue Holiday will miss the beginning of the 2016-17 season to be with his pregnant wife as she faces brain surgery. Holiday’s wife, former U.S. Soccer midfielder Lauren Holiday, will have surgery to remove a benign tumor later this year.
In June, doctors found a tumor near her right orbital socket. The tumor is operable, but not until she has given birth. Holiday is due in Mid-October, with a surgery date tentatively set for six weeks afterward. According to the Times-Picayune, both procedures are to be done at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina.
While Jrue is away, the Pelicans will have several options to replace the former All-Star point guard on the court, but nothing that will be a long-term solution.
The best solution for the Pelicans at point guard in the absence of Holiday would be Tyreke Evans. Unfortunately, Evans will be on the sidelines, as well, as he recovers from knee surgery back in February. Evans has been a great on-ball option for the Pelicans in his three years in New Orleans.
While Holiday started the 2015-16 on a minutes restriction, Evans was the primary ball handler for the Pelicans. In just 25 games before his season ended because of injury, Evans averaged 15 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.2 rebounds. In the recent theme for the Pelicans, Evans can’t stay healthy, so he is out as the replacement option.
So for New Orleans, they have to turn to several guards fresh to the roster. This offseason, the Pelicans added combo guards, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore. Tim Frazier finished the season on the Pelicans roster and was re-signed to a two-year deal this offseason too.
Langston Galloway went undrafted after four years at St. Joseph's. The New York Knicks signed Galloway to a 10-day contract in January of 2015. After playing out two 10-day contracts, the Knicks signed him to a partially guaranteed two-year deal. Galloway played 127 games for the Knicks, starting 48 of them.
Galloway signed a 2 year-11 million dollar contract with the Pelicans after a bit of a sophomore slump. Galloway did appear in all 82 games for the Knicks last year, but his scoring dropped over four points, and his three-point percentage dropped eight percent.
The third year in the NBA for Galloway could be a big one. He now has stability in his contract, and the Baton Rouge native is playing in his home state again. Opportunity can often breed success, and with Holiday missing time, Galloway could play a large role immediately for the Pelicans.
E’Twaun Moore comes to New Orleans from the Chicago Bulls. Moore put up solid numbers in his 5th NBA season last year, starting a career high 22 games for the oft-injured Bulls. Moore isn’t really a true point guard, and might not even be classified as a combo guard. The natural position for Moore is shooting guard, but with Derrick Rose and Aaron Brooks missing nearly 30 games combined last season, Moore played more at the point guard spot last season than he ever had.
Tim Frazier played 16 games for the Pelicans last season, starting one of them. The injury issues at the end of the 2016 season allowed an opportunity for Frazier, and he capitalized. Frazier played 29 minutes a game, averaging 13 points and 7 assists.
Frazier’s big numbers last season are a direct result of the limited options New Orleans had. At the end of the season, the Pelicans only had eight healthy bodies, and Frazier was one of them. He took advantage of the situation, though, turning his play into a two-year, four million dollar contract. While Frazier likely isn’t the starter for the Pelicans, once again he’ll be asked to play a big role as a backup ball-handler.
Another option for the Pelicans could be to bring back veteran point guard Norris Cole. Cole played in 45 games for New Orleans last season, averaging a career-high 10.6 points and 3.7 assists. For whatever reason, Cole is still a free agent as training camp is quickly approaching. The Pelicans have 15 guaranteed contracts at this time, but a more permanent solution for an extended Holiday absence might be needed.
Cole has had the most success among these four options, but considering that he isn't on the roster to begin with, the Pelicans are most likely moving on from him.
None of the above options come even close to what Holiday does for the Pelicans. There were hopes that Holiday would return to All-Star form again this season, as he heads into the season opener healthy, for the first time in three years.
But Holiday reminds us that sports, while important, shouldn’t take priority over family. Basketball has got Holiday to where he is today, but that doesn’t excuse him from responsibilities as a husband and future father. So kudos to Jrue Holiday. He gets it.
Holiday told the Times-Picayune, “I’m obviously blessed to play this game and be in the position I am in, but my wife is the most important thing in the world to me. She comes before anything else.”
The signings of Galloway and Moore and the re-signing of Frazier were meant to bolster the bench, and to add depth to a team hit hard by injuries last season. For different reasons, the Pelicans once again are required to look for new options at the guard position.
With the offseason moves New Orleans has made, they are much better prepared this time around for the absence of Holiday.