If the cost includes Caris LeVert, the Nets should pass on acquiring Jrue Holiday


The NBA’s trade moratorium ends on Nov. 16, and those who have been musing how Jrue Holiday would fit on the 2020-21 Nets will ramp up that musing. Shams Charania has noted (and the Pelicans’ VP of basketball operations, David Griffin, pretty much confirmed) that New Orleans has discussed dealing Holiday to “several contending teams,” including Brooklyn…but would the deal be worth it?

Maybe, but definitely not if the cost includes Caris LeVert.

Holiday is a defensive vice who averaged 19.1 points per game last season. Given Brooklyn’s deficiencies guarding the perimeter, Holiday would presumably absolve substandard defenders like Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie of the toughest responsibilities.

However, despite these attributes, Holiday is not a “star” in the sense of Irving and Kevin Durant, which means there is no trade scenario where Brooklyn should put LeVert in a package to obtain him.

Unfortunately, most experts believe that the Nets would be required to include LeVert to get the Pelicans to pull the trigger. A theoretical Dinwiddie/Taurean Prince/picks platter from Brooklyn GM Sean Marks might not be enough.

If that is where New Orleans draws the line, pass.

Under Griffin in the Pelicans organization is general manager Trajan Langdon, a Marks disciple from their days in San Antonio who was part of the Nets organization when Brooklyn traded forward Thaddeus Young to Indiana…for the 20th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, which just happened to be LeVert.

Langdon surely knows that, in so many areas, LeVert would be the best player in a potential deal. He’s four years younger than Holiday, is on a team-friendly three-year, $52.5 million contract (whereas Holiday can opt out after earning $26.1 million this season), and proved he can carry a lineup as its focal point when he earned Second Team All-Bubble honors over the NBA’s eight-game finish to last season. With Toronto able to load up on debilitated Brooklyn’s sole offensive threat in the first round of the playoffs, LeVert still averaged 20/6/9.5 in points, rebounds, and assists.

Quite bluntly, LeVert already IS Brooklyn’s third star.

You want to knock LeVert for his injury history? Holiday has missed at least 15 games in six of the last eight seasons. How about LeVert’s concerning three-point shooting? Holiday’s below-average 35.3 percent mark from deep last season actually increased his efficiency over the last five campaigns to 34 percent, just a fraction of a tick above LeVert’s career rate in his four NBA seasons.

Holiday has been better at catch-and-shoots, but the fact that LeVert was able to knock down 38.7 percent of his pull-up three-pointers last season showed he has the mechanics down to improve his consistency on all opportunities.

Obviously, Holiday is the far superior defender today, but that doesn’t mean LeVert, who has three inches on Holiday in both height and wingspan, can’t be taught. The Nets’ prior defensive schemes didn’t exactly prioritize the proper way to navigate screens. Maybe the new coaching staff and the opportunity in front of him to play games of greater importance will spur growth on the defensive end. By many accounts, no Nets player works harder off the court and he will continue to get stronger to become more adept at switching onto bigs.

If the target was a current All-Star like Washington’s Bradley Beal, another ball-dominant guard who I consider redundant in a backcourt with Irving, then you at least consider parting with LeVert. Preferably, the Nets will be looking to go after players with size – that’s imperative if they hope to compete in the playoffs against many of the Eastern Conference’s top dogs like Milwaukee, Toronto, and Philadelphia.

I’d do a LeVert/Prince/Dzanan Musa/picks package for Detroit star forward Blake Griffin, provided the Nets’ staff gets comfort with Griffin’s medical reports.

However, using LeVert to acquire Holiday, no matter the fit, would just be poor asset management.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve Lichtenstein on Twitter: @SteveLichtenst1