Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Pelicans finding Brandon Ingram trade market cool, nobody wants to pay next contract

2024 NBA Playoffs - 	Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 29: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans talks to the media after Round 1 Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 29, 2024 at the Smoothie King Center 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Sacramento was widely rumored as a potential Brandon Ingram landing spot, but the Kings instead went with DeMar DeRozan. Cleveland had been rumored, but they re-signed Donovan Mitchell and will run it back with their core. Golden State’s name came up, but that never seemed to have traction.

As NBA free agency starts to wind down, the Pelicans have not been able to find a trade for Ingram — something that speaks to the NBA’s marketplace and financial landscape under the new CBA.

Ingram is a quality player, he averaged 20.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists in almost 33 minutes a night in 64 games for the Pelicans last season. After Paul George decided to go to Philadelphia, the market heated up around Ingram for a while. However, no deal got done. One of the reasons the Pelicans wanted to move on — they didn’t want to give him a four-year, $208 max contract extension — is the same reason other teams are hesitant, something Will Guillory at The Athletic explained.

New Orleans made a big trade before the start of free agency by acquiring Dejounte Murray from the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were one of the main teams linked with the Pelicans in Ingram trade rumors since the end of the season... As it turned out, Atlanta didn’t have much interest in giving Ingram his next contract or moving either of its top two centers (Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu), according to league sources.

Ingram is one of a number of good players who are going to have a hard time finding max money in the new NBA reality. Under this CBA, with teams afraid of the second apron, franchises can only have a couple of max contracts before they get deep into the tax. The result is max contracts are primarily only going to sure-fire, no-questions-asked max players — think Jayson Tatum’s extension with Boston this summer — or an up-and-coming player worth the bet they can become that max guy, for example, Franz Wagner’s new deal in Orlando.

Is Ingram a top-two player on a championship team? Front offices around the league are not convinced. Throw in his injury history — which includes a lot of missed games and some lengthy recoveries — and teams don’t see Ingram as a player they are ready to max out. Maybe that changes over time, but it’s where things stand now.

That leaves the Pelicans in a tight spot. They want to move on from Ingram and ideally would love to trade him for a starting center, which is why they talked to Atlanta about Capela. It’s why some Pelicans fans love the idea of an Ingram for Deandre Ayton trade with Portland, but why would the Trail Blazers do that? Ingram would mean fewer touches for Anfernee Simons and Scoot Henderson, then they would have to max him out next summer and that would be Jerami Grant version 2.0 problems for Portland.

New Orleans still has to look around. Ingram has never meshed as well as hoped with Zion Williamson, doesn’t seem a natural fit next to Murray, and they have Trey Murphy III deserving more minutes on the wing.

New Orleans will keep looking, but the market will likely cool more in the coming weeks. It could heat up again in training camp as teams get a closer look at their rosters and deal with the inevitable injuries. However, it may fall to Pelicans coach Willie Green to make all of this fit together to start the season.