Leg surgery ends Holiday’s season

Point guard Jrue Holiday had surgery on his right tibia and will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season, the Pelicans announced Friday.

Holiday, who came to New Orleans in a draft-night trade with Philadelphia, had been sidelined since Jan. 10 with a stress fracture in the leg, missing 23 games. When the injury was announced, he said he’d “probably” be re-evaluated in a month.

But he had been experiencing pain in the leg for some time.

“It was just a nagging injury,” he said. “You don’t know what it is; you don’t know how bad it is. But it’s there.”

Holiday was in a walking boot until about early February. He then spent at least a week on the West Coast before the Feb. 14-16 All-Star break, talking with and being evaluated by doctors.

He resurfaced with the team on a recent road trip after the break. At that time, the Pelicans did not release any more information on the injury, other than to say he was out indefinitely.

He is the second Pelicans player to be lost for the season, joining center Jason Smith, who had surgery to remove loose cartilage in his right knee. Forward Ryan Anderson has been out since Jan. 3 with herniated disks in his neck but has not been ruled out for the season.

The Pelicans have a disabled player salary cap exception that they must use or lose by March 10; it allows them to replace Holiday by spending a portion of the salary he would have been owed for the rest of the season.

Holiday played in 34 games and averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 33.6 minutes.

He showed a penchant for hitting big shots and carrying the team for stretches with his scoring. But he was brought in as the centerpiece of coach Monty Williams’ defense-oriented system as a point guard who can pressure the ball and disrupt the opponent’s offense.

To obtain Holiday, the Pelicans gave the 76ers two first-round draft picks — last year’s No. 6 pick, used to select Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, and this year’s top choice. The teams also swapped second-round picks, meaning the Pelicans have no picks year.

Asked Feb. 20, the trading deadline, whether the Pelicans needed draft picks, Williams said, “You always need draft picks.”

“We made a decision to use our picks to get Jrue,” he said. “I know right now it probably doesn’t look as good because Jrue’s hurt. But we think, in the long run, it’s going to help us.”

Holiday is in the first year of a four-year, $41 million contract extension he signed with Philadelphia in November 2012.