NBA PM: Holiday Getting Settled In New Orleans
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Holiday Getting Settled In New Orleans
While it was clear that changes were on the horizon for the Philadelphia 76ers after a disappointing season last year, the draft night deal that sent All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans was a complete shocker.
However, that wasn’t the case. Sam Hinkie, the new general manager of the 76ers, opted to cash in Holiday’s trade value, which was as high as it had ever been, to help jump start a complete and total rebuild.
Holiday wasn’t looking for a way out in Philadelphia and had clearly found his comfort zone with the franchise, but is adjusting accordingly to this unexpected, but potentially fruitful, change.
“It’s been cool,” Holiday said of being a Pelican. “[The fans] seem really excited. Obviously, they have a really good football team and really are about this team. We just want to make them proud.
“There’s a couple guys I played with back in the day in high school and everything … I’m really excited to play with them.”
As intriguing as the Pelicans’ talent pool is, there are questions about how it’s all going to come together. They have a lot of depth in the backcourt, but are thin by traditional standards up front.
“We have a lot of athleticism,” Holiday said. “A lot of guys who work hard. Even though some guys may be bigger or stronger, we’re the type of team that works harder and we want to bring that every single night.”
As the point guard and captain of the offense, a lot of the responsibility to bring this team together falls on Holiday. He’s going to be the one who initiates the offense and controls the tempo in which this team plays with. Part of what helped make him so successful last season in Philadelphia was the familiarity he had with his coaches, teammates and system. It will take time to develop the same type of intimate understanding of those things in New Orleans.
“Really just to feel out the game, feel out my players, obviously feel out my teammates and just read defenses,” Holiday said when asked what head coach Monty Williams is looking from him. “I think that’s the biggest part of being a smart player as well as being efficient, obviously with the turnovers and all that it’s really about just feeling out the game right now.”
The process is off to a pretty encouraging start as the Pelicans are 4-0 in the preseason with four more preseason games to go. The hope in New Orleans is that the Pelicans can top the crack eight in the Western Conference this season and make a return to the playoffs. With their All-Star point guard settling in and becoming more comfortable by the day, they appear to be on the right track so far.
There’s still no set date for when the New York Knicks can expect to see Amar’e Stoudemire back on the court, but whenever he does step foot on the hardwood, it will likely be with a minute restriction that is more severe than last year’s.
“We’ve just got to figure out if it’s going to be 10 minutes, 15, 20,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said to ESPN’s Ian Begley. “We won’t know at this point until he’s back on the floor and seeing how things are going.”
Stoudemire was limited to 30 minutes a game last year, averaging 14.3 points and five rebounds in the 29 regular season games that he was able to appear in.
“I thought we were really doing a pretty good job managing his minutes last season,” Woodson said. “And they were, I thought, positive minutes in terms of helping us win basketball games when he was in there.”
Stoudemire is currently recovering from an offseason knee procedure. His knee has been operated on three times in the past year, which helped prompt the Knicks to make a trade for Andrea Bargnani this summer. Bargnani, a former number one overall pick, brings a completely different dynamic to the Knicks than Stoudemire, but is a versatile scorer who should be able to help ease the void that Stoudemire’s limitations/absence creates.
Stoudemire will make $21.6 million this year and has an early termination option for next season worth $23.4 million. By exercising that option and becoming a free agent Stoudemire would free up a lot of options for the Knicks, but given his current health and injury history, the chances of him walking away from that kind of money are slim to none.
Howard Faces Magic Tonight
For the first time as a Houston Rocket, Dwight Howard will go up against his former team the Orlando Magic tonight.
Although a year removed from being traded by the team to the Los Angeles Lakers, there’s still a lot of animosity from the Magic and their fan base especially toward Howard and the manner in which he left the team.
During the Rockets’ shootaround on Tuesday, Howard reflected on the decision process that led to him bouncing from Orlando to Los Angeles and eventually to Houston, where he will now call home for at least the next few years. He stressed the importance of doing what was best for Dwight and acknowledged that no matter what he did, there was still going to be a large group of people who didn’t approve of his choice.
But, what really sticks with Howard and still bothers him to this day, is the fact that the Magic let Tobias Harris take his number 12, which he was hoping would be retired.
“I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did that we did as a team and that number was special down there,” Howard said to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “And I was a bit upset about that.”
Harris’ decision to wear 12 is admirable, not vengeful, as it’s a tribute to his close friend who died from leukemia at the age of 17 – something that Howard is likely not aware of.
While their regular season match ups will hold more weight, Howard will probably be playing with a little extra added chip on his shoulder today. Last year against the Magic, he went for 21 points and 15 rebounds in a December 2 home loss and 39 and 16 in a March 12 road win.