Even before he’s played a game with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jrue Holiday’s long-term future is something all Bucks fans will keep an eye on.
The high-wire act that has been the Milwaukee Bucks offseason still hasn’t technically settled, especially not when the biggest decision facing the franchise has yet to be made.
But they certainly made quite the all-in move when they traded for Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans in what ended up being a four-team trade. After having their guard play falter in each of the last three playoff runs, specifically with Eric Bledsoe, bringing in Holiday stands as the facelift the Bucks desperately needed going into a critical season. Whether Giannis Antetokounmpo ultimately signs his supermax extension or not before the start of the 2020-21 season.
It obviously didn’t come without some risk, though. Not just at the price point the Bucks gave up to add Holiday into the mix, with both Bledsoe, George Hill, three future first rounders and two pick swaps.
That’s quite the haul for anyone, let alone Holiday, and especially when you consider that he’s only under contract for this season and next and holds a $26.2 million player option for the 2021-22 year.
It’s understandable why some Bucks fans who may have been leaping in joy when hearing the news that Holiday was bound for Milwaukee quickly pivoted into sweating nervously (not that I’m speaking from experience, no).
Not that he’s poured cold water on being a free agent as soon as next offseason, but Holiday’s recent comments to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes on the ‘Posted Up’ podcast certainly tipped his hand in how he’s looking towards the future after such a massive move:
“Haynes: Could you see a future in Milwaukee beyond this year? Is that something you’re open to or do you want to take the wait and see approach?
Jrue: We’re for sure open to it. Again, I’m about winning, and this franchise over the past few years, they have been doing a very good job of that. Man, I’m really trying to win, to be completely honest. I’m trying to put banners up there, put a ring on my finger, and I’m trying to have fun doing it. This really seems like it could be the place for that.”
Given that Holiday could be a free agent as soon as next offseason, his willingness to stay long-term with the Milwaukee Bucks is very encouraging.
Of course, the caveat that Holiday started his answer with centered around winning and doing so at the highest level. Even with all of the questions swirling around the long-term future of the franchise, the Bucks are positioned to make it out of the Eastern Conference and reach the NBA Finals as currently constructed.
Given that Holiday has only won two playoff series in his 11-year NBA career, he certainly has a better opportunity to add more wins to that list in Milwaukee and in the East than he had previously in New Orleans.
With that in mind, the fact that Holiday is eligible for a four-year, $135 million extension in February as ESPN’s Bobby Marks ($$) recently noted is quite the ace up the Bucks’ sleeve if things go according to plan. When you combine that with the talk that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst shared on a recent ‘Hoop Collective’ podcast that Holiday sought a move to a team that he was willing to stay long-term, that only eases the risk factor involved from the Bucks’ perspective.
As we’re seeing with Antetokounmpo at the moment and the Bucks’ other grand plans for the offseason, to count on Holiday potentially signing an extension before he puts pen to paper would be foolish. This 2020-21 season will be full of obstacles, some of which we haven’t seen teams deal with as the league attempts to play outside of the bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s without getting into whether the Bucks can live up to their promise of vying for an NBA title and appease Antetokounmpo and their newly acquired star in Holiday in the process. Needless to say that a lot is riding on the Bucks being able to do that this season.