The ramifications from Wednesday's Damian Lillard trade will be felt for years to come, but the dust hasn't settled yet. Jrue Holiday was sent to Portland by the Milwaukee Bucks, and it took less than an hour after the trade news broke for another report to emerge that the Trail Blazers are interested in moving Holiday immediately.
This would seem to be the natural move for both parties. The Blazers are heavily invested in a young, talented backcourt and, at 34 years old, Holiday probably doesn't have interest in helping preside over a rebuild. His skills haven't eroded yet, however, and he can immediately provide a significant boost to a contender immediately.
Holiday averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game last season while shooting 38 percent from deep. As you could tell from the steal numbers, his defensive acumen still ranks among the best in the league and he was named second-team All-Defense as a result. The last few playoff runs have shown that if a team needs Holiday to score to win, it will be in trouble. But if he can be a secondary offensive option while locking it down on the other end, Holiday is an extremely dangerous player. And he knows what it takes to win a title. He is also set to make $34 million this season, which might make it tricky for some teams to make the money work.
So which NBA teams should be going after Holiday? Here are a few possible landing spots.
Hello again, Miami! It would be understandable if neither the Heat nor the Blazers wanted to engage after how the Lillard debacle unfolded over the last few months. And the core problem remains -- what the Heat have does not appeal very much to the Blazers. But if a third team gets involved who wants Tyler Herro and Portland is fine with Miami picks for Holiday, it would be a good fit. It sort of seemed like the Heat were banking on getting either Lillard or Bradley Beal this summer to fix their offensive creation problems in the backcourt. They let Gabe Vincent and Max Strus walk. Now they're left with nothing to really replace them.
Erik Spoelstra is obviously a great coach who can help cover the talent gap most nights but the Heat need some help at the guard spot. Holiday would be tremendous for that. As with Lillard, however, it feels like the Heat's package will fall short of other offers.
Holiday would fit like a glove in Philly. He'd be rock-solid playing off Joel Embiid and can take on the tougher defensive assignments from Tyrese Maxey. It would also serve as a fun full-circle moment after the Sixers traded Holiday way back when to kickstart The Process. Bringing in a playoff-tested veteran like Holiday might be exactly what Embiid needs to reach his full potential in the postseason. And Philly has an easy trade asset to match Holiday's salary in the unhappy James Harden, who is still with the team despite his attempts to get traded over the last few months.
As much as he is the solution, though, Harden is also the problem. The Blazers have no interest in taking on a player of his age, salary, and baggage. There would need to be a third team involved and the Sixers would have to throw in a lot more assets-- at which point one decide it might not all be worth it. It's a logical fit but a stretch to make happen right now.
Los Angeles Clippers
Holiday is exactly what the Clippers have been looking for the last few years. He can set the table on offense and more than hold his own on defense. He is not only capable of but comfortable playing off superstar teammates. He's basically like what Los Angeles hoped John Wall would be last year. They have a bunch of mid-tier contracts to offer in order to salary match and a few young talents the Blazers could be interested in taking a swing on.
The biggest motivation to get this done is that the clock is ticking for the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are on their fourth year together with the franchise and have won absolutely nothing. Both can opt out of their contracts after this season. They might not be able to offer up the most appealing trade packages but the Blazers can probably push Steve Ballmer farther than they can other potential suitors because the pressure is on. Keep an eye on this LA squad in the hunt for Holiday.