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Report: Jrue Holiday to give Pelicans’ first crack at signing him before exploring market

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Smoothie King Center on October 31, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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Jrue Holiday has the Pelicans over a barrel.

General manager Dell Demps appears to be on the hot seat, and DeMarcus Cousins is entering the final year of his contract. Keeping Holiday, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is New Orleans’ best clear chance of winning enough around Anthony Davis for Demps to keep his job – and re-sign Cousins to extend his tenure as general manager further. If the Pelicans lose Holiday, they’d have only about $12 million for a replacement starting point guard unless they dismantled their roster elsewhere.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday will meet with Pelicans officials at the 12:01 a.m. ET start of free agency on Saturday, league sources told The Vertical.

If Holiday, one of the market’s top unrestricted guards and the Pelicans’ primary summer priority, is unable to reach an agreement on a deal to remain with New Orleans, he intends to take meetings elsewhere in the first 48 hours of free agency, league sources said.

This sounds like a thinly veiled threat: Make a huge offer, or Holiday might walk.

What is that huge offer? The max, which projects to be worth nearly $144 million over five years?

Younger than other starting-caliber free agent point guards, the 27-year-old Holiday should draw plenty of lucrative offers. With his injury history, money might be an especially big factor.

I don’t know what’s scarier for the Pelicans – locking up Holiday to a max or near-max contract in the opening minutes of free agency or risking losing him. But this is the hole they’ve dug themselves into.