We had our first sweet, sweet, player transaction of the season this week, with one-time Bull Kyle Korver (and I won’t even begin to reiterate what a screwup that was for GarPax) going back to another former home in Utah.
The return going to the Cleveland Cavaliers may inform us as to what the Bulls can expect if they look to deal their own shooting wing, Justin Holiday.
The Cavs received two second-round picks, one in 2020 and another in 2021. Plus to match contracts they received wing Alec Burks, who as an expiring contract yet someone who also can play a bit and is still only 27, may be a candidate himself to be flipped. Contenders, or even teams that unlike Cleveland and the Bulls want to be good, need wings!
Justin Holiday has performed fairly comparably in this early season to both Korver and Burks in terms of their rate of production, though Holiday has produced a lot more given how many more minutes he gets nightly. In terms of skillset, Holiday is more towards the Korver side: more three point attempts, less other kinds of offensive usage. And that’s shown in this trade to be more valuable.
So how much value should Holiday have? Perhaps not as much as Korver, as the latter has more history as a great shooter, plus other intangible benefits like his playoff experience and (for Utah in particular) fan familiarity. But when looking at the desired 3-and-D traits of a role player wing: while not shooting at the elite level of Korver, Holiday has ramped up his attempts to Korver’s level and is over 40% on the season. He’s also the better defender (by DRPM, better than Burks too) and while not great on that end - he’s very slight - theoretically holds his own to the point where wouldn’t be ‘played off the floor in the playoffs’ like the now-37-year-old Korver could.
It’s been widely reported in an almost perfunctory manner that as a veteran for a crud franchise, Holiday is ‘available’. But while Korver didn’t garner a first round pick, 2 second rounders and a theoretically-flipable player is pretty good return. I wonder if the Bulls are holding out for more, hopefully not past the deadline. They could also be holding on for the sake of their current roster (and coach’s) sanity, as Holiday is over 35 minutes per game and there really isn’t much available behind him to soak up those minutes - unless you are gung-ho about self-sabotage.
And of course the Bulls don’t seem to value second round picks at all. Board dries up! And they also don’t appear willing to take on long-term salary...that’s a whole ‘nother subject. As a rebuilding team, they’ve been pick-deficient in the second round the past two drafts and don’t have one this coming draft either. Through a series of moves (tracking these things is fun, look at where Cleveland’s original 2020 pick went, a reminder that 2nd rounders aren’t even necessarily about drafting a 12th man but using in other trades) that 2019 Bulls second rounder is owned by the Sixers. They could definitely use Justin Holiday.