At around 10:30pm EST, I checked into the heartbreak hotel. I’m writing this by candlelight, engrossed in my own personal vigil. Some music lightly plays in the background.
If you’ve been paying close attention to some of my writings, you’ve caught on by now that I am a huge fan of Justin Holiday. It’s nothing personal, I really liked him as part of the Derrick Rose trade, which I refer to as “the Justin Holiday trade," but I didn’t have a chance to scout him so in-depth until he became a Knick. The resulting fandom was purely due to his style of play, though his trek to the league and underdog story certainly made me pull for his success that much more. Well, his time with the Knicks has now come to an end.
This is how a conversation would go if I were to speak to one of my friends who knows nothing about basketball:
Me: “The Knicks just let Justin Holiday walk! I am feeling negative emotions!”
Friend: “Walk? What do you mean?”
Me: “They did not offer him a contract. At all.”
Friend: “Oh, well I heard that the Knicks wanted to get younger. He probably signed a long deal somewhere, right?”
Me: “Incorrect. It was a two-year deal and he is 28 years old.”
Friend: “Did he get overpaid somewhere? Surely he makes more money than Jeremy Lamb, Wayne Ellington, Alex Abrines, Garrett Temple, Alec Burks and Dante Exum.”
Me: “He makes less than all of those players and for someone who doesn’t know anything about basketball, those were several obscure players.”
Friend: “Who signed him?”
Me: “The Bulls.”
Friend: “What team did you guys acquire him from last year?”
Me: “The Bulls.”
Friend: “Are you okay?”
Me: -Dial tone-
I’m gong to stop short of putting up Holiday’s per-36 numbers versus Lee’s because this is mostly a news piece about what happened, begrudgingly mixed with an emotional goodbye to a player I was a big fan of. Their numbers weren’t far off though, and Lee played with starters who commanded a shit-load of attention relative to Kyle O’Quinn and Ron Baker. If you’re truly interested in my full breakdown of Holiday, I wrote about him in March. For now, we have to wonder what management’s goal is going forward. Courtney Lee is 4 years Holiday’s senior and likely the Knicks’ only valuable trade asset (Lee will make about $12 Million this year), Damyean Dotson is still a question mark and Vujacic is almost certainly gone.
In a season that saw Derrick Rose miss preseason games due to a civil rape trial and then disappear without contact and miss a game, the team president publicly spar with the star player, the future of the franchise skip an exit meeting, Courtney Lee mock team personnel on Instagram, Joakim Noah get suspended for PED use, Carmelo in tabloids involving dancers, and so much more, Holiday was as quiet as a mouse and did his job like a professional every night.
Carmelo missed games with knee soreness this season, Porzingis missed games with back spasms and achilles pain, Lee missed games with a bad thumb, Noah missed games for everything, Rose missed games for a still indeterminate reason before missing the remainder of the season with yet another knee injury, and literally every other player on the roster got banged up. Holiday played all 82 in 2016-2017.
Holiday may still be under market value as he stands to make about $4.5 Million per year, but it’s a step up from about the $1 Million per year he made in 2016-2017. While I’m happy for Holiday as he signs the biggest contract of his career, it’s still modest by NBA standards, and the Knicks’ lack of an offer is truly puzzling, especially for a player who had several fans within the organization and coaching staff. Maybe Holiday would have stayed in New York for the same offer. Perhaps the Knicks could have gotten him to stay for even less annually (say, 3 years/$12 Million). These are things I’ll think about if he locks up Damyean Dotson in a meaningless game in November. Sigh.
Goodbye Justin Holiday, we hardly knew ye.