New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday told reporters on Monday that Pels All-Star big man Anthony Davis, whose camp has officially requested a trade, was the primary reason why he re-signed with the team as a free agent in 2017.
"He's like 90 percent of the reason that I stayed," Holiday told Andrew Lopez of NOLA.com and others. "He's a talent that comes once in a generation. A 7-footer who can do everything at his skill level."
Davis and Holiday led the Pels to a four-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of last year's playoffs before falling in the second round to the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors. However, this season has taken a downturn, with the team 22-28 entering Tuesday.
Injuries have played a large part in the team's regression: Davis has missed nine games, while Nikola Mirotic and Elfrid Payton have sat for 18 and 31, respectively. But the Pelicans' team defense has been its Achilles' heel no matter who is on the court, with the team ranking just 27th in defensive efficiency compared to a tie for 12th in 2017-18.
Holiday, who is in the second season of a five-year, $125 million contract with New Orleans, told reporters that Davis told he and his teammates of the trade request: "He had to what he had to do for his family and what’s best for his career. Anthony has always been professional with us and even more so, he’s been a friend and like a brother. Whatever his decision he makes, I can’t be upset with him. I know it’s a business and he’s doing what’s best for him."
The career remark is an important note, as the Pels may have gone as far as they could have last season with Davis leading the way. Now the playoffs look like a distant possibility with four teams between the Pels and the eighth-place Clippers, who occupy the Western Conference's final playoff spot at 28-23.
As Lopez noted, the Pels' future now enters a murky stage. Do they tear down the whole team and try to rebuild from scratch with a new franchise cornerstone, or do they try to stay competitive with the roster in place plus any players who return in a hypothetical Davis deal?
That's a difficult question to figure out now given that the official Davis request is fairly recent, but Holiday noted he's just looking toward the rest of the year: "I’m more worried about the season. I’m worried about tomorrow. We’re trying to come out and win every game we play. It’s just like when I was doing my free agency. I didn’t worry about that. I worried about the task at hand."