The NBA postseason in the Orlando bubble has already been incredibly compelling, but for teams on the outside looking in, major changes could be on the horizon. And when changes are imminent, the rumors naturally start flowing.
That's where we come in. Below, we'll break down some of the most interesting buzz making the rounds in the Association.
Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball
The New Orleans Pelicans are such a fascinating team, and not just because of Zion Williamson. There's Brandon Ingram's ascent into stardom, the team's 2-6 meltdown in the Orlando bubble and the backcourt fit of players like Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball.
Let's dig into that last one, starting with this report from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium:
"Several teams placed calls into New Orleans regarding their two-way star heading into the February trade deadline, but Holiday remained committed to the organization and the Pelicans wanted to see this season through. Holiday has a player option for the 2021-22 season, leaving New Orleans with a potential decision on whether they want to pursue a contract extension or a move where he would command a serious market in the East and West. I wouldn’t expect answers on this front until well into September at the earliest."
It would make sense if the Pelicans fielded calls on Holiday. Assuming they want to build around Williamson and Ingram, Holiday isn't on the same timeline as a 30-year-old ostensibly interested in winning a title.
But then there's also the question of whether Holiday and Ball are the right fit. That's where this report from The Athletic's David Aldridge in that same article becomes all the more intriguing: "People down in Orlando tell me Lonzo Ball looked like he'd checked out the whole time the Pels were there, and that they expect some significant roster adjustments in New Orleans before next season."
It's possible that Ball was checked out for other reasons that had nothing to do with Holiday. Their two-man lineup had an adequate net rating of 0.9, per NBA.com. Not spectacular, but not losing basketball, either.
But Ball is 22. Williamson is 20. Ingram is 22. They need time to develop chemistry together, to grow together, to learn how to coexist as the stars of a team. It's possible that having Holiday, whose timeline is advanced, might not be helpful.
Veterans are important for young players until their presence stunts growth. Look no further than the New York Knicks bizarre free agency last summer and the odd choice to give middling veterans minutes at the expense of player development for proof of that.
So this feels like a natural summer for Holiday to be on the move. Veteran, contending teams around the NBA looking for a change—wouldn't his skill set make a lot of sense on, say, the Philadelphia 76ers next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons?—will surely be calling.
And then there's a man who a lot of teams would probably love to sign in free agency this year but might not get the chance: Davis Bertans.
Washington Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard told reporters Wednesday that re-signing Bertans this offseason is "a priority."
"I told him that," Sheppard added. "And really, nothing has changed there."
It should be. The 27-year-old was a revelation for the Wizards this season, setting a career high in points (15.4 PPG) while shooting 42.4 percent from three. In the floor-spacing NBA, he's exactly the type of shooter teams want to find.
That means he'll get paid this summer. If JJ Redick can get around $13 million a year at the age of 36, Bertans should get something in that neighborhood. That means the Wizards will need to pay up.
All indications to this point are that they will.