Bringing back center Omer Asik and the health of point guard Jrue Holiday are the most important issues with regard to next season, Coach Monty Williams said Tuesday.
“Omer is a huge part of what we do,” Williams said during his season-ending media availability. “If you look at our defensive numbers from this year to last year, we've improved in a number of categories.
“He and (Anthony Davis) are really good at guarding their man, blocking shots. It makes our defense that much better. Omer certainly added great value to our team, not just as a defender; his IQ. As he got more comfortable with me, and we began to talk more, that's when you started to see our defense get better.”
Asik, who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Rockets last July for a No. 1 draft pick, is a free agent. He was paid $14.9 million last season as part of a three-year, $25.1 million contract.
Holiday missed 41 games last season with a right lower-leg stress reaction, but returned for the final six games and the playoffs. He missed 48 games in 2013-14 with a fracture in the same area of the leg that required a rod and screw to be inserted.
“There is concern there just because he is unsure and he's been unable to play, and our medical staff has been evaluating daily how we can get him on the floor,” Williams said. “If he's healthy and hawking the ball the way that I know he can, and with Omer's comfort level with us now and with AD's ability, our defense is going to be that much better next year.”
Holiday said Sunday he wants to get the screw taken out and that he plans to rest the leg before starting workouts to prepare for next season. He has three years and $33 million left on a four-year contract.