WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Jrue Holiday would like everyone to know that he’s no lemon.
Even if the Philadelphia 76ers had to partially reimburse the New Orleans Pelicans (to the tune of $3 million) because they failed to disclose that the one-time All-Star point guard had stress fractures in his right tibia when they traded him in 2013 for what wound up being two lottery picks, Holiday is determined to prove he is the player who in his first four NBA seasons averaged 75 games played — not the one who has played in 74 total during his two seasons with the Pelicans.
And part of that, beyond carefully planned rehabilitation that includes a restriction on the minutes he can play and practice until January, is shutting out the negativity.
“I’m not the type to look at stuff or read things that might upset me,” Holiday said last week during training camp at The Greenbrier. “I don’t watch much ESPN, and I stay away from Twitter and Instagram. It’s just somebody saying something negative about something they don’t know about.”
That includes how much he knew — or should have known — about his pre-trade condition that the league determined merited the Pelicans getting some of their investment back.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Holiday said. “I mean, obviously I’ve heard about what went on between the two organizations, but I’m not involved.”
Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps isn’t commenting on the matter, but he does offer that, to his knowledge, Holiday had no idea how seriously he was injured. So it sounds like a matter that most feel the less is said about, the better.
But if you would like to hear something positive from Holiday, how about this? He’s pain-free.
It happened in June, while he was in Canada watching his wife, Lauren, help the U.S. win the Women’s World Cup.
“Honestly I hadn’t done anything, but the screws were out, (and) all of a sudden (the pain) wasn’t there any more,” Holiday said. “I’d get on the anti-gravity treadmill and, even though it was taking off the pressure, I still wasn’t feeling anything. From there on, it’s kind of progressed. But I still don’t want to take it too fast.”
That’s why Holiday has been diligently following his activity protocol: no more than 50 minutes of practice per day and no more than 15 minutes of playing time in games.
“I think I’ve always been smart about myself before,” he said. “But sometimes, things just happen. I had surgery, and I probably tired to come back a little too fast, even though I thought I was being smart at the time.”
“I think he looks great,” Demps said after closely watching Holiday during training camp. “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.”
But coach Alvin Gentry acknowledged that there may come a day in the next few weeks when Holiday may request that his pitch count be lifted.
“We’ve got a great medical staff, and every day they keep us updated on Jrue’s condition,” Gentry said on his radio show. “He’s healing and so I’m sure he feels good about it, and the closer and closer we get, the better he’s going to feel about it. But Jrue also knows that he’s got to be disciplined enough to know to stay with what’s been laid out for him.”
Although this is Holiday’s seventh NBA season, he’s only 25, so there should be a lot of basketball ahead of him — especially with the Pelicans.
“We’re familiar with each other, so it’s coming pretty easy,” he said. “I like the style we’re playing, especially with the athletes we have. There’s just great camaraderie.”
When Holiday is healthy, he’s expected to regain his role as the starting point guard, although the work Tyreke Evans does until then could make that a difficult decision for the coaching staff. Gentry said he has given it thought and honestly doesn’t know where things will go.
“I just want to be out there playing and helping my teammates,” Holiday said. “I’ve been here two years and haven’t made it past January.
“Right now, my leg’s feeling fine. I’ve just got to get my wind back if I’m going to play the way they’re wanting us to play and the way I want to play.”