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Pelicans reportedly have ‘every intention’ of re-signing Brandon Ingram

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When Brandon Ingram came to New Orleans as part of the Anthony Davis trade, the sides talked about an extension to his rookie contract, but it didn’t make much sense for the Pelicans to commit. First, Ingram was coming off a blood clot issue that ended last season for him and, if it returned, it could threaten his career. Then there was the question of whether Ingram could take the next step in the evolution of his career? And, how would he fit next to Zion Williamson?

We know the answers to two of those questions.

Ingram has been healthy and is having a career year — 25.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds, and he’s shooting 42.4 percent from three. His handle has improved, his footwork is amazing and often overlooked, and he’s a versatile defender. Ingram has played at an All-Star level for the Pelicans and would be in the discussion for Most Improved Player early in the season.

New Orleans decision maker David Griffin has seen enough, reports Marc Spears of The Undefeated.

Brandon Ingram, 22, is a restricted free agent next summer, but Griffin told The Undefeated that the Pelicans have every intention of keeping him long term.

First, it must be noted that every GM/POBO says some variation of “we plan to keep him” about every restricted free agent. It’s what you say to try to ward off potential suitors (and hopefully get the player at a discount).

Also, the Pelicans have yet to see Ingram and Williamson next to each other, and make no mistake it is Zion who is the future of the franchise. Finally, Ingram has to stay healthy, which has been an issue the past couple of seasons.

Still, the Pelicans would be smart to keep Ingram, players of his skill level and ability to create shots are not easy to find. Ingram came into the league lanky, needing to get stronger and how to take advantage of that length. Watch him play now and you see a guy who has figured it out. He got stronger, but more than that try to find a guy his size with better handles.

The only question becomes the pricetag. The Pelicans could offer Ingram a five-year, $169 million max. If they don’t, in a down free agent market this summer expect some team to come hard at Ingram with a four-year max that the Pelicans could match.

Either way, Ingram is on a path to getting PAID next summer.

Mark Cuban backs off belief NBA season could resume in mid-May

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban
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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has backed off his belief that the NBA season could resume in mid-May. In appearance on ESPN’s Get Up, Cuban said, “I have no idea” when the NBA could resume the 2019-20 season.

Last month Cuban said he thought a return to play could happen as soon as mid-May. That timeline likely included the NBA Finals being played in late-July, after the two-month suspension of play.

Cuban’s Mavericks were on the verge of making the NBA playoffs. That would have been the Mavs first postseason appearance after a three-year absence. Dallas hasn’t advanced out of the first round since winning the NBA championship in 2011.

Cuban also added about returning to play: “I mean, I haven’t had any conversations where anybody discusses an actual date.”

The NBA season has been suspended since Wednesday, March 11. That night games in Oklahoma City and Sacramento were postponed after players and officials were tested for coronavirus. The league was already prepared to play games without fans present, but suspended operations after positive COVID-19 tests.

Four Nets players who tested positive for COVID-19 showing no symptoms

Kevin Durant
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On a conference call with the media Wednesday morning, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks shared some good news. The four Nets players who had tested positive for coronavirus are no longer showing symptoms.

Kevin Durant was one of the four Nets to come forward and say he had tested positive for COVID-19. Durant said at the time that he was feeling fine, but this report clarifies that he’s now clear of symptoms. Durant has been out for the entirety of the 2019-20 season as he rehabs from the torn Achilles’ he suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals.

Over a dozen NBA players tested positive for coronavirus since mid-March. About half of those players have been identified. Multiple reports have surfaced over the last two weeks of players being cleared of symptoms.

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics was recently cleared of COVID-19 after a positive test. Reports are that he plans to donate his blood plasma to National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project for research on the blood of those recovered from coronavirus.

Watch Kevin Love talk mental health in time of coronavirus on “The Daily Show”

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Since coming forward with his own anxiety issues, Kevin Love has become a person at the forefront of a more public discussion of mental health in society.

Wednesday, he went on the social isolation edition of Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show” and talked about how the isolation and loneliness caused by social distancing can be “devastating” at this time for people battling depression and anxiety.

“I think continuing to create community at this time, that’s a huge thing… speaking of social isolation, it has made navigating this time very, very different,” Love said. (See his full comments in the video above.)

Noah also asked Love about the return of the NBA — Love said he had no idea but thinks this makes it even more open to any team getting the title — and about the Cleveland forward becoming one of the first players to donate money toward a fund to help arena workers who have no job to go to right now.

“I thought it was important to take care of people who had taken care of me so long,” Love said of his donation.

Watch the video above. You get a real sense of how Love is trying to adapt to a new reality, just like the rest of us.

This Date in NBA History: James Harden goes off for then career-high 51 vs. Kings (VIDEO)

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The 2014-15 season is one of several years where James Harden feels he should have been MVP but was robbed by voters. It’s become almost an annual tradition.

Stephen Curry won the award that year — he was bombing threes on his way to 23.8 points and 7.7 assists a game, leading the 67-win Warriors to an NBA title — but Harden put up raw numbers that were right there, 27.4 points and seven assists a game.

Harden made his case for the award on Feb. 1, 2015, with a 51-point outburst against Sacramento that was, at the time, his highest-scoring game ever. He shot 16-of-25 from the field overall, a ridiculous 8-of-9 from three, and he got to the line 13 times. Sacramento had no answer.

Harden has scored more points since — he’s had 60+ point games each of the last three seasons — but this was his first 50+ point game, and to this day remains one of his signature games.