Jrue Holiday to leave Pelicans to care for wife, following her brain tumor diagnosis

Kelly Dwyer
Jrue Holiday. (Getty Images)
Jrue Holiday. (Getty Images)

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will miss an undetermined amount of time to start the 2016-17 season, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on Sunday, as he cares for his ailing wife.

[Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

Lauren Holiday is a soccer star, former USA Women’s National Team midfielder, and Jrue Holiday’s wife. She is pregnant with the couples’ first child, and also recently diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. The tumor is “operable and no threat to the Holidays’ unborn daughter,” reports the Times-Picayune:

“My family comes before basketball,” said Holiday, 26. “I’m obviously blessed to play this game and be in the position I am in, but my wife is the most important thing in the world to me. She comes before anything else.”

The veteran Pelicans point guard went on, in talking to the Times-Picayune’s Jeff Duncan:

“Obviously, we were and are still very excited about the birth of our first child, but our focus shifted from having this magnificent blessing to making sure everything is going to be OK with Lauren and the child,” Jrue said. “Our priorities right now are being able to manage Lauren’s symptoms and still have a fairly healthy pregnancy.”

Lauren Holiday. (Getty Images)
Lauren Holiday. (Getty Images)

Lauren Holiday, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has a “mid-October” due date. Surgeons will conduct the operation to remove the tumor six weeks after she gives birth, and though this reference pales in comparison to mention mid-sentence, this is an NBA website and we should remind that Pelicans training camp begins in late September and the 2016-17 season starts a month later.

Jrue Holiday, sadly, is no stranger to the inactive list.

A series of leg complications has forced the former All-Star to miss 48, 42 and 17 games with New Orleans in his first three seasons with the franchise since being dealt from Philadelphia in 2013. After a frightfully injury-plagued and disappointing 2015-16 turn, in which the Pelicans (who made the playoffs the season before) dropped from 45 to 30 wins, the franchise was hoping to drive into the postseason with Holiday’s experience at point guard leading the way.

Those plans, to start the six-month season, will be slightly hamstrung to start 2016-17. As we’re all aware, though, this recognition is a trifle in the face of what Lauren Holiday and her husband are working through.

From Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, via the Times-Picayune:

“We encourage Jrue to take as much time as he needs to be with his wife and family before returning to the Pelicans,” Demps said in a statement. “Mr. and Mrs. (Tom) Benson’s top priority is the health and wellness of the people in the organization.

“We understand that Jrue will miss some games, and his teammates are prepared to step up in his absence. We will welcome Jrue back with open arms when he is ready to return to the team.”

Coach Alvin Gentry also added his support:

“The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is be with his wife and family,” Gentry said in a statement. “Every one of our coaches and players understands what Lauren and Jrue are going through, and they know we’re behind them 100 percent.

“We’ll continue to do everything we can to support them and help them get through these hard times.”

Mostly coming off of the bench, Jrue Holiday averaged 16.8 points and six assists per game last season for New Orleans, in what was a needed bounce-back campaign. His ball handling duties can be capably filled by 2016 offseason signee E’Twaun Moore, while all-around swingman Tyreke Evans can also lend support in this area, but Holiday’s presence will be missed.

Good thing, because his presence will be sorely needed in his household, as his wife works her way through an unimaginable stretch:

“Lauren has her good days and her bad days; some are better than others,” Jrue said. “She’s obviously a fighter, the toughest woman I know. That’s the reason why I married her.”

– – – – – – –

Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!