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NBA Sunday: Pelicans’ Plans Start With Holiday
Posted By Lang Greene On July 28, 2013 @ 10:03 am In NBA | No Comments
New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday talks about his new team, what he's been working on and what lies for the franchise.Watch More Video Here
The New Orleans Pelicans haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2011 campaign, when All-Star guard Chris Paul and forward David West were leading the team. But entering next season the franchise will have the highest set of expectations on its shoulders since the duo of Paul and West left town.
One of the primary drivers of the increased expectations for the club is based on the arrival of All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. The team acquired Holiday from Philadelphia in a drat night deal in exchange for the rights to No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel and a coveted 2014 first round pick.
Noel was projected by many to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s class and the 2014 draft is expected to be loaded at the top with potential franchise changing talent. This makes the move to acquire Holiday a calculated risk New Orleans is hoping will pay immediate dividends.
“I’m excited man, Holiday told HOOPSWORLD. “Obviously with that I’m in the right place.”
The Pelicans not only added Holiday this summer, but also bolstered the roster by acquiring 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans in a three-team deal early in free agency.
Shortly after the acquisition of Evans and Holiday, shooting guard Eric Gordon confirmed he was fully bought into what the franchise’s front office was building.
The trio of Evans, Gordon and Holiday to go along with 2012 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis and sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson gives the Pelicans one of most talented young cores in the game today.
With all of those guys locked up at least through the 2016 season, Holiday says the core has an opportunity to grow with one another and build a true chemistry.
“I feel when we grow together because all of us have three or four year contracts all of us are going to learn each other,” Holiday said. “Learn each other’s ways and tendencies. From there big things happen.
“All I have to do is pass [the ball]. I got the easy part. They have the part of shooting the ball, grabbing the boards, lobs and all of that. I just have to get them the ball where they want to get it.”
As a member of the Sixers, Holiday made consecutive trips to the postseason in 2011 and 2012. The four year veteran says those teams had great chemistry, were relaxed and just had fun with each other which is an attribute he is planning on bringing to New Orleans’ locker room.
“For one have fun,” Holiday said about the need to enjoy the work they’ll put in. “I think that’s the biggest part; having fun with your team. I think I’ve done that every year, especially making it to the playoffs which were an awesome experience and getting back there is the ultimate goal.”
Pelicans head coach Monty Williams has experience under his belt coaching an All-Star guard having had Paul on the roster back in his first season leading the franchise in 2011. Holiday says he has spoken with Williams and the two have discussed tightening up his game this season to become even more efficient.
“Be more efficient,” Holiday confirming his goal for next season. “[Williams] had Chris Paul so from a coaching standpoint, just making me more efficient, better as a point guard and continue learning every day.”
The Pelicans have finished more than 20 games below .500 the past two campaigns, a trend their fan base is expecting to end in 2014 with the new additions.
The arrival of Holiday is arguably the biggest reason for this shift in expectations.
Pacers Continue To Strengthen Their Bench
The Indiana Pacers were just one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals this past season. The Pacers ultimately succumbed to the eventual champion Miami HEAT in seven games during a classic Eastern Conference Finals series.
An area which is credited with Miami’s ability to put the Pacers away in the series was Indiana’s lack of production from their reserve unit. The Pacers’ front office has spent the majority of the summer fine tuning its second unit in hopes for another championship run in 2014.
The Pacers signed veteran guard C.J. Watson to a two-year contract in free agency and also signed forward Chris Copeland, with part of its mid-level exception, to a three-year deal.
In the latest move, the Pacers acquired veteran forward Luis Scola from Phoenix in exchange for forwards Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a lottery protected 2014 first round pick.
Scola played in all 82 games for Phoenix last season while average 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in 26.6 minutes of action. The addition of Scola gives the franchise a quality big off the bench behind former All-Star David West.
“Luis will be a very important asset to our team and to our bench,” Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in the team’s press release. “He has NBA experience, international experience and is the type of player that will fit in nicely on our roster.”
Scola is clearly thinking the Pacers should by eyeing a championship next season and feels the team is close to achieving this goal.
“I’m very, very excited to play for the Pacers,” Scola said. “They are one of the top three teams in the NBA with a good shot to win a championship. I think it’s a great team and this is a great opportunity. I can’t wait.”
The Pacers have reached the playoffs each of the past three seasons. The team was eliminated in the first round in 2011, bounced in the semifinals in 2012 and pushed the HEAT to game seven of the conference finals in 2013. The franchise is hoping the team’s next stop will be the NBA Finals in 2014.
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