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Report: Pelicans, Brandon Ingram never seriously discussed contract extension

Denver Nuggets v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 31: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans in action during a game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center on October 31, 2019 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 Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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Of the nine 2016 first-round picks who averaged over 10 points per game during their first three seasons, eight received a rookie-scale contract extension last offseason – Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Taurean Prince, Jaylen Brown, Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis and Pascal Siakam.

The lone exception: Brandon Ingram.

Ingram is off to an excellent start, averaging 26 points per game. He’s not just posting empty numbers for the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans. Ingram looks improved in nearly every facet of his game.

Does New Orleans regret not extending him before last month’s deadline?

Brian Windhorst on ESPN:

From what I’ve been told, there wasn’t even really significant talks about it. I think both sides realized now is not the time to make a deal because of that blood clot.

That blood clot, which sidelined Ingram the end of last season with the Lakers, is so concerning. A recurrence could end Ingram’s career. It’s hard to agree to an extension with that looming over negotiations.

So, maybe the Pelicans could’ve extended him for less money. But that would’ve been taking a huge risk.

Now, though they’ll likely have to pay up to keep him.

If Ingram stays healthy and keeps playing like this, he could draw max offer sheets this summer. He’ll stand out in a weak free-agent class.

Expect New Orleans to match. Even before taking the job, Pelicans lead executive David Griffin has consistently praised Ingram. Now, Ingram is doing more to justify the hype.

The Pelicans are probably happier to have a max-level(-ish) player on their roster rather than kicking themselves for not securing him for cheaper.