Holiday, 30, averaged 19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game last season, and his arrival marks one of the biggest and boldest moves of Bucks GM Jon Horst’s tenure. Milwaukee will send Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and two pick swaps to New Orleans in the deal, which will help keep Antetokounmpo and company as one of the East’s top contenders.
If the sign-and-trade agreement for Bogdanovic is completed, the Bucks will send Ersan Ilyasova, Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson to the Kings. Bogdanovic, 28, averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists while emerging as a starter down the stretch of his third season in Sacramento.
The Pelicans indicated in recent weeks that Holiday’s name was being mentioned in trade talks, and the 2013 all-star guard will enter this season on a legitimate contender for the first time in his 11-year career. Bogdanovic was also viewed as a possible trade piece given his positional conflict with Buddy Hield, who signed a four-year, $94 million contract with the Kings last year.
The Athletic and ESPN.com first reported terms of the Holiday deal. ESPN.com first reported the Bogdanovic agreement, adding Wednesday that he planned to enter restricted free agency on Friday. The sign-and-trade agreement could not be officially reached until the free agency period opened on Friday.
After a disappointing second-round exit in the bubble playoffs, Bucks ownership met with Antetokounmpo to assure their franchise player that they were committed to winning. While the Bucks were unable to deliver on rumored interest in Chris Paul, who was traded Monday from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Phoenix Suns, they secured Holiday to add another two-way impact player to a core that includes Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.
The Holiday deal accomplishes multiple objectives for the Bucks. First, it signals to Antetokounmpo that he will be back in the title mix this season as he weighs his options before possibly becoming a free agent in July.
If trading for Holiday helps convince Antetokounmpo to sign a five-year supermax contract before the Dec. 21 deadline, it will be worth the steep price in draft assets. If not, the Bucks could find themselves without Antetokounmpo or Holiday next season, as the latter is owed $26.1 million this season and holds a $27 million option for 2021-22. In that scenario, which would necessitate a full-scale rebuild, parting with so many picks could prove to be disastrous.
From a basketball standpoint, adding Holiday gives the Bucks, who ranked first in defensive efficiency last season, an all-defensive on-ball stopper with playoff experience. He should prove especially helpful in possible postseason matchups with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, Boston’s Kemba Walker and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. What’s more, the trade clears out Bledsoe, whose annual postseason struggles were a major factor in Milwaukee’s last two playoff exits.
Bogdanovic would add another high-volume three-point threat to Milwaukee’s projected starting and closing lineups. With Holiday, Bogdanovic, Middleton and Lopez, Antetokounmpo would now be surrounded by four proven shooters who are all more or less in their age primes. Landing Bogdanovic would require Milwaukee to part with DiVincenzo, a nifty scoring guard, and Wilson, an intriguing frontcourt athlete. If the sign-and-trade is completed, the message from management would be clear: The Bucks are fully committed to the 2021 title chase. If Bogdanovic finds a different home, Milwaukee will need to reconsider its options and search for another starting-caliber wing.
The Pelicans valued Holiday as a locker room leader and floor general, but he was significantly older on a young roster that includes Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Jaxson Hayes. Bledsoe can help fill Holiday’s minutes in the short term, while the 23-year-old Ball should be given every opportunity to take the next step in his career. Hill, a playoff-tested veteran with two years and nearly $20 million remaining on his contract, could emerge as a possible trade chip for New Orleans.
The Pelicans, who finished 13th in the West last season after a disappointing run in the Disney World bubble, replaced coach Alvin Gentry with Stan Van Gundy this offseason. Their best-case scenario this season with Holiday was likely to finish as the seventh or eighth seed. Without Holiday, a similar fate remains possible if Williamson can remain healthy and show major progress in his second season. Given those circumstances and New Orleans’ rosy long-term picture, the cache of incoming draft picks from the Holiday trade more than justifies the increased risk of missing the 2021 playoffs.