Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry and the New Orleans Pelicans backcourt of Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick are three of the most interesting players to monitor heading into the trade season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
"When [general manager] Masai Ujiri gave Lowry that extension before the season—one more year, took him out of this summer's free agency, $30 million—there was really one reason for him to do it: It made him easier to trade," Woj noted on Sunday's Trade Special Show. "Because now teams have him under contract for another year. You know they want to re-sign Fred VanVleet, who will be a free agent, this summer."
Regarding Holiday and Redick, Wojnarowski noted contending teams will be monitoring their availability as the Pelicans are in a rebuilding season after Zion Williamson started his rookie year injured.
Toronto and New Orleans find themselves in opposite situations.
While Toronto (17-8) looks like a team that could make noise in the postseason this year—even if they lack the upside of the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference—the Pelicans (6-21) have floundered without this year's No. 1 overall draft pick and already may be completely out of the postseason picture.
The Pelicans are six games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (11-14), who currently holds the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The team is mired in a 12-game losing streak, the worst current skid in the NBA, and have the joint second-worst record in the league.
The Raptors could, in theory, play out the season with Lowry, taking its victory lap after last year's title while attempting to make another run at the NBA Finals. They could shop him over the summer, looking to build around a young core of Pascal Siakam, VanVleet and OG Anunoby, all while keeping salary-cap flexibility for the summer of 2021 to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo.
For the Pelicans, however, the 2019-20 season already looks to be lost. And the timelines of players like Holiday (29) and Redick (35) don't line up with the young core of Williamson (19), Brandon Ingram (22), Lonzo Ball (22), Jaxon Hayes (19) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (21).
The Pelicans could choose to sell Holiday and Redick at the deadline for future assets and young players, continuing to build around Williamson. Plenty of good teams would have interest in both players, especially teams that may be an All-Star-caliber player away from becoming genuine title contenders.
Those teams likely will inquire about Holiday. Contending teams looking to add shooting will have interest in Redick. It seems like a strong possibility that both will be changing addresses ahead of February's deadline. It would be a bigger surprise if Lowry was moved given Toronto's solid start to the season.