The Pelicans announced Friday that point guard Jrue Holiday has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right tibia that will sideline him indefinitely.
The 2013 All-Star had played in every game for New Orleans this season, averaging 14.3 points, a team-high 7.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting 44.7 percent overall and 39 percent from deep. Holiday, a 2009 first round pick out of UCLA, ranks among the NBA's top 10 in assists per game.
Acquired from the Sixers in a trade last summer, Holiday has been a dependable floor general for the Pelicans, who have shown flashes of intrigue despite multiple injury issues. He has posted a net rating of plus-1.5 this season, and the Pelicans' offensive rating is 107.7 when he's on the court, compared to 100.4 when he's off the court.
Coach Monty Williams can turn to back-up point guard Brian Roberts, who is averaging 5.7 points and 2.3 assists in 15.5 minutes per year. Holiday's injury could open the door for 2012 lottery pick Austin Rivers, who is averaging 4.2 points in 12.3 minutes per game in his second season, and Williams might opt to have Eric Gordon or Tyreke Evans take over some of the ball-handling duties. New Orleans also currently has one open roster spot to accommodate a free-agent signing.
New Orleans enters Friday's action with a 15-19 record, which puts them four games out of the Western Conference playoff picture. The trade for Holiday was one of a number of moves made last offseason in hopes of assembling the franchise's first playoff team since 2011, but injuries to Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis, among others, have complicated that picture. Losing Holiday, a key core piece without a totally able and proven replacement on hand, casts their playoff hopes into further doubt.
Holiday joins fellow high-profile Western Conference guards Chris Paul (shoulder), Kobe Bryant (knee), Russell Westbrook (knee) and Eric Bledsoe (knee) on the injured list. The 23-year-old guard holds career averages of 13.5 points, 6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals, and he is in the first year of a four-year, $41 million rookie contract extension.