In early November, multiple reports pointed to the Atlanta Hawks potentially engaging in trade talks involving the No. 6 pick with the theoretical pursuit of a veteran at the forefront. On Tuesday, additional buzz emerged in the form of a high-profile veteran that is firmly on the market, as Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Hawks have “emerged as a potential trade destination” for New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday.
The Hawks have emerged as a potential trade destination for New Orleans' Jrue Holiday in multi-team trade scenarios that would involve Atlanta's No. 6 pick in next week's draft, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 11, 2020
As Stein notes, this scenario could involve multiple teams and the No. 6 pick appears to be Atlanta’s primary asset in discussions. Holiday is one of the NBA’s best defensive guards and, on the offensive end, the veteran has averaged 19.7 points (on solid efficiency) and 6.8 assists per game over the last three seasons in New Orleans.
Simply put, Holiday would make the Hawks better on the court, bolstering the team’s perimeter defense and giving Atlanta a coveted option that can function at point guard when Trae Young sits, while also being able to play alongside the team’s franchise star. However, Holiday’s age and contract situation create an interesting and potentially challenging situation.
Holiday is already 30 years old, and he is owed $26.2 million for the 2020-21 season. While that contract figure isn’t a problem for a Hawks team with gobs of salary cap room, Holiday has a 2021-22 player option for $27.1 million that Stein reports he is “expected to decline” in order to reach free agency.
As such, Holiday is effectively a rental at this juncture and, considering where the Hawks are in the NBA’s landscape, title contenders pursuing Holiday’s services in trade always made more sense. However, Holiday and the Hawks could theoretically arrive at a contract extension that could make things more palatable for Atlanta’s long-term plans.
If the two sides agreed to an extension within six months, the Hawks could give Holiday as much as $55.7 million over two additional seasons, putting him in free agency again in 2023. If Atlanta waited more than six months to sign Holiday to an extension (with the caveat of a declined player option), the Hawks could give Holiday up to four additional seasons for as much as $139 million. Those are simply the maximum number available in this hypothetical — and the Hawks should absolutely not invest more than $130 million in Holiday at his age — but extension talks would make sense.
The No. 6 pick is already involved in reported trade discussions, with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics as other potential suitors. If nothing else, this reporting further emphasizes the potential for Schlenk and his team to move away from the No. 6 pick, either as part of a move motivated by draft capital or a push into the veteran realm for a player like Holiday.
Holiday might be the best single player available for the Hawks to aid in their push for the 2020-21 playoffs. Still, long-term considerations are in play, and the decision-making on how much capital to offer in pursuit of a 30-year-old guard will be intriguing for Atlanta’s front office.