It’s been almost a decade since the Philadelphia 76ers jettisoned Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a first-round pick. Revisionist history suggests it was a lop-sided trade, one of the worst in franchise history. It’s not.
In fact, it could be argued that the Sixers fleeced the New Orleans Pelicans in the deal. They received two top-10 players for a one-time All-Star stuck on a mediocre team. Trading Holiday earned them multiple draft assets – the tentacles of this trade stretch deep, wrote The Rights to Ricky Sanchez – and seemingly kicked off “The Process.” Names like Dario Saric, Elfrid Payton, Michael Carter-Williams, Justin Anderson altered the space-time continuum.
Fast forward to 2021 and Holiday has been a force for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. He’s averaging 17.6 points, 9.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds per game after a dominant Game 5 performance. It has reopened the debate over whether the Sixers should have traded Holiday in 2013. One of the leading nay-sayers has been long-time NBA reporter Dei Lynam of NBC Sports Philadelphia and her criticism has drawn the ire of loyal “Process” defenders everywhere.
And Lynam wasn’t the only local media personality critiquing the Holiday trade. SportsRadio 94WIP’s Howard Eskin took aim at the Sixers’ general manager at the time, Sam Hinkie, referring to him as “Scam Hinkie” while comparing Holiday to Ben Simmons. Holiday is the better player, per Eskin. Sixers fans were quick to point out that Philly passed on Phoenix Suns starter Mikal Bridges in 2018.
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Revisiting 2013 Trades Remain Pointless
There were quite a few people – fans and media alike – who rushed to the Sixers’ defense regarding the Holiday trade. Why are we revisiting a trade from eight years ago? Especially when Holiday was sitting out there as a restricted free agent this past offseason. All the Sixers or any other team had to do was outbid the Bucks. Instead, Milwaukee locked him up to a max contract extension worth $160 million.
Holiday was arguably the best player on the court on Saturday night, dropping 27 points and dishing out 13 assists. The 31-year-old point guard also made the play of the night when he lobbed a perfect alley-oop to Giannis Antetokounmpo with 16.7 seconds left.
“My dad thinks I’m the best player in the world,” Holiday told reporters after Game 5, via ESPN. “He just feels like I can do everything – play 48 minutes, I don’t need to come out, I don’t need a break. But really just be aggressive the whole game.”
Sixers Make Holiday 17th Overall Pick
The Sixers drafted Holiday in the 2009 NBA draft with the 17th overall pick. The UCLA product burst onto the scene in 2013 and scored a career-high 35 points on Jan. 26. The 22-year-old became the youngest player in franchise history to make the All-Star team when he earned a reserve spot for the Eastern Conference. Holiday spent four seasons in Philadelphia and averaged 13.4 points, 5.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds in 32.9 minutes per game.
Hinkie eventually traded Holiday and a 2013 second-round pick (turned out to be Pierre Jackson) in exchange for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick (turned out to be Elfrid Payton). The Sixers flipped those assets and acquired Dario Saric, another first-rounder and a 2015 second-rounder during subsequent “Process” wheelings and dealings.