New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday said Wednesday that Internet reports of his being traded for a first-round selection in Thursday’s draft is news to him.
The Pelicans don’t have a pick in this year’s draft. They traded their first-round choice last year, Kentucky center/power forward Nerlens Noel, to the Philadelphia 76ers along with this year’s to obtain Holiday, a good defender who fits coach Monty Williams’ system well.
Reached in his hometown of Los Angeles, Holiday said he didn’t put much stock in the reports.
“I’m pretty confident I’ll be a Pelican next season to be strong, to facilitate the team and hopefully to make the playoffs,” he said.
Holiday’s right tibia was fractured after just 35 games last season, and he missed the final 47. He returned to Los Angeles during the season, where he continued his rehabilitation. Now, he’s preparing for next season.
“I’ve been lifting weights,” he said. “I started running three weeks ago. I haven’t started basketball-related activities. I’ve been stretching and making sure my ligaments down to my knee are intact, so that when I start moving on the court, there won’t be any complications.”
The Pelicans are looking for help at center and small forward. Reports continue to say the Pelicans are “aggressively” seeking to get into the draft, which is deep in small forwards. The Los Angeles Lakers, with the seventh pick, and Sacramento Kings at No. 8 are among teams looking for a point guard, particularly a good veteran.
Coach Monty Williams said Monday that General Manager Dell Demps is listening to offers concerning obtaining a pick. Two players whose names had been mentioned for possible trades are Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, both of whom are shooting guards. However, their names were mentioned in Internet reports concerning trades last season. Holiday’s name surfaced Wednesday.
His injury was one of three key ones that impacted the season. The Pelicans (34-48) were expected to compete for a playoff spot. Forward Ryan Anderson had surgery to repair two bulging disks in his neck, and center Jason Smith’s had surgery on his right knee due to cartilage damage. On a team with a remade roster, the three key injuries hit during a three-week period in January.
“I think we were playing well,” Holiday said. “Everybody was feeling out each other really well and coming into their own. It’s unfortunate that three guys had surgery, but the playoffs are still definitely a goal, especially with the core and the talent that we have.”