Pelicans GM David Griffin has dismissed recent trade speculation suggesting their All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday will depart before February, while also delivering an update on the fitness of number one draft pick Zion Williamson.
Despite highly-reputable sources reporting the news, the Pelicans have not put Jrue on the trade block ahead of February’s trade deadline – according to their GM.
He spoke to Fox Sports’ Jennifer Hale during their overtime defeat by the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night and said this:
“December 15 just passed so teams that would hope to acquire something from a team like ours – struggling to win games – is looking at us as a target.
Nothing has changed in our approach at all, everyone wants to believe a player like Jrue, JJ [Redick] or Fav [Derrick Favours] is available because we’re not winning but nothing has changed. People identify us as a seller – nothing factual has happened.
Ironically I spoke with Jrue yesterday about this and the day after, the report emerges… so we laughed about it. We’re clearly not [looking to trade him] no.”
Meanwhile, Zion was spotted shooting in shootaround before their latest defeat, so how has his recovery been after knee surgery? What’s the timeline on his slated NBA debut?
Griffin was full of praise for the teenager, saying this:
“We’re really excited about where he’s at, he’s made great progress and I know we’re at that eight-week point, everybody is ready to see him but he’s a little way away yet.
It’s an important time for him, he’s fully weight-bearing so if we were to see a setback, it would be by now. His teammates, the way they respond to him and the joy he brings is evident, we’ve obviously needed that.”
Williamson doesn’t have a set date to return to full practice – let alone make his NBA debut – but he’s expected to feature at some stage with the team on their four-game road trip which starts tomorrow at Minnesota and ends on Christmas in Denver.
In 26 games this term, Jrue is averaging 19.5 points, 6.8 assists and 5 rebounds per game on 44.6% shooting and 33.6% from three-point range.
He’s been their most consistent performer alongside points per game leader Brandon Ingram (24.9, 7.1 rebs, 3.6 ast) and despite the Pelicans’ 6-22 record, it’s understandable they want to keep hold of their experienced leader.
Worst NBA records (as of December 18, 2019):
Golden State Warriors: 5 wins, 23 losses
Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans: 6-22
Cleveland Cavaliers: 6-21
New York Knicks: 7-21
The Pels’ last victory was against the Suns on November 22 and their schedule (UK time) doesn’t get much easier between now and the turn of the year:
December 19, 1am: Timberwolves (10-15)
Dec. 21, 3.30am: Warriors
Dec. 24, 3am: Trail Blazers (11-16)
Dec. 26, 3.30am: Nuggets (17-8)
Dec. 29, midnight: Pacers (19-9)
Dec 30, 1am: Rockets (18-9)
Whether their stance on Jrue is true or not, remains to be seen. They will obviously be keen to keep hold of their star guard, but he’s 29-years-old and should feel justified in his desire to play for a title contender before his prime years finish.