Jrue Holiday’s minutes restriction isn’t new.
Based on an interview with Sports Illustrated, Holiday said his minutes were supposed to be limited at the onset of last season while he bounced back from surgery to repair a stress reaction in his right leg, but that never materialized.
Instead, Holiday averaged 34.2 minutes per game for the first 36 games before the stress reaction reared its head again and kept him out for 40 games.
Now, the plans are for Holiday to begin the upcoming season on a cautious 15-minute restriction with his playing time gradually increasing as the year goes along. He’s logged 10 minutes in each of the first two preseason games.
“I think it’ll be 10-15 minutes just so we don’t have the same thing that happened last year where I started off playing 35 minutes and something else happened to my leg and don’t know why,” Holiday told SI. “So I think we’re just going to take it slow and through every game, after every game, during every practice, see how it’s feeling and we’ll just go from there.”
Although Holiday said his doctor, Richard Felker out of Los Angeles, suggested a restriction to start last season, Holiday’s competitiveness made sticking to it difficult.
“Last year we planned on having a minute restriction. But as a competitor, and at the time, when he would ask me, ‘Are you good to go?’ I’d say, ‘Yeah,’” Holiday told SI. “My leg felt good, and I told him it felt good. As competitors and coaches and all that, that’s what they see: that he’s good to go. But I felt like as a doctor, he knows the biomechanics of it where when you stress your leg or something like that, you need a lot more time to heal, especially after you have surgery.”
The injury history became an even more significant item when it was reported the Philadelphia 76ers paid the Pelicans a $3 million settlement for failing to disclose Holiday’s complete injury history before the 2012 draft-day trade that sent the former All-Star to New Orleans.
Even during last year’s training camp, Holiday told reporters he estimated he was only at “70 to 75” percent of ideal health and expected to start the season “a lot slower than if I were healthy.”
But Holiday played full time until the 40-game absence.
This time around, new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said they aren’t going to rely on what Holiday tells them, but instead take a cautious approach with incremental boosts in playing time based on recommendations from the medical staff.
“The restriction is definitely medical,” Gentry said last week. “He’ll start out with a limited number of minutes. Then we’ll move it up a little bit, and finally we will try to get to the point where the minutes are unrestricted. But it’s a process.
“I don’t think that all of a sudden, because he feels good, we’re going to let him go. That’s how you get in trouble. So, as I’ve said, we’re going to proceed with caution. But eventually we will get to the point, I hope, where the minutes are unrestricted and he can play as much as we need him to.”
In May, a screw was removed from Holiday’s leg, which required surgery. But the rest of the offseason was dedicated to rehabbing from the injured leg that Holiday claimed is now “pain free.” Gentry and several teammates have praised Holiday’s performance in practice and in preseason games.
“I think he looks great,” General Manager Dell Demps said after closely watching Holiday during training camp in West Virginia. “His body is in great shape and, more than that, Jrue has made the commitment to get back the right way. He’s a professional.”