clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should the Knicks try to reunite with Justin Holiday in free agency?


Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks
“Hi, is this the Knicks? I’d like one contract please.”
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Knicks are reportedly interested in using some of their ample cap space this offseason to bring back Justin Holiday, who is coming off a season with the Indiana Pacers in which he displayed the ability to be an impactful ‘3 and D’ rotation player.

Holiday, a 6’6”, 180-pound wing, has a history with New York, having played for the Knicks back in 2016-17. He played in all 82 games that season, posting 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist per game while shooting 43% from the field, 36% from three and 83% from the free throw line.

Though he looked like a solid piece, Phil Jackson felt the Knicks were better off letting him walk in the summer of 2017, so Holiday signed with the Chicago Bulls for a total of two years, $9 million. Last year, he landed in Indiana on a one-year deal. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent when this season ends, and the Knicks “really want him,” according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

Should the Knicks look to sign Holiday? Should they not try and sign Holiday? Should they go somewhere nice on holiday, like Hawaii or Australia?

Let’s explore.

Why the Knicks should sign Holiday

The Knicks could have the second most cap space in the league this offseason if they let everyone with a team option walk, and even if they retain some of those players they’ll still have room to sign some fresh faces. Holiday has played in New York before, and he performed quite well. Many people were confused when the Knicks chose not to sign him in 2017.

At 31-years-old, Holiday would provide something of a veteran presence on a team of youngsters, but he’s not that old, and doesn’t possess the outsized stature of a Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony, so he should be able to slide into the rotation smoothly without much issue.

Holiday has not historically been a starter, so he could serve as a backup to R.J. Barrett with the ability to play the three when the Knicks decide to go small. He shot a career high 40.5% from deep last season, and throughout the six full seasons he’s played in the NBA has displayed the ability to hit threes with consistency. That’s something the Knicks need badly.

Since the start of the 2017-18 season, which is the first campaign after the Knicks let him go in free agency, Holiday has averaged 10 points on 39% from the field and 37% from three, plus 4 rebounds, 3 assists and just over 1 steal per game. He’s like one of those Leatherman multi-tools. He can do a little bit of everything, and you’re not even sure you really need him. But then you can’t find your pliers and the wrench is missing, and suddenly that Leatherman is the most important tool you own.

His effective field goal percentage of 50.2% over that time span isn’t far behind players like Trae Young (his eFG% this year was 51.9%), Bradley Beal (52% this year) and Pascal Siakim (50.5% this year). It’s better than Julius Randle (49.3% this year), Devonte Graham (49.5% this year) and Jimmy Butler (47.8% this year).

Holiday earned $4.8 million last season, which suggests the Knicks could potentially ink him to a contract that doesn’t eat up too much of the cap. Why not offer him a three-year deal worth $5 million per season? Bring him home, Leon Rose. Let him serve a complimentary role on the roster while the Knicks spend the next few years trying to steadily improve so they can finally feel what it’s like to make the playoffs again.

Why the Knicks should not sign Holiday

Holiday will be 32 in April, which means he’s only a few years away from being designated as an aging veteran rather than an up-and-coming role player. The Knicks have shooters in Reggie Bullock (a career 38% three-point shooter with a team option worth $4.2 million for next season) and Wayne Ellington (also a 38% career three-point shooter, but with a team option worth $8 million for next season).

Keeping those two instead of going out and signing Holiday would show the Knicks value consistency in the roster, and such consistency can breed chemistry. There’s no guarantee that Holiday would fit well with Barrett or Mitchell Robinson, as neither was on the squad back in 2016-17.

Further, this season Holiday’s free throw percentage fell below 80% for the first time since 2015-16 (he shot 79.1% this year).

Overall, his stats aren’t great. They’re just okay. Would 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist per game have resulted in any additional wins for the Knicks last season? Not necessarily. Maybe the Knicks should keep the likes of Bullock and Ellington and seek to make roster changes elsewhere.