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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.

Former Celtic Guerschon Yabusele fined for not looking at flag during Chinese national anthem

Guerschon Yabusele
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Guerschon Yabusele washed out with the Celtics.

So, now the former first-rounder is playing in China – and running into trouble.

The Chinese Basketball Association fined him for not looking at the flag during the national anthem:

Though Yabusele is French, this comes amid heightened tension between the NBA and China. Most Americans will probably find it ridiculous that looking at the flag during the national anthem is required in authoritarian China.

Meanwhile, let’s ostracize anyone who dares not to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.

Portland reportedly applies for disabled player exception after Rodney Hood injury

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Rodney Hood‘s season coming to an end because of a ruptured Achilles was a real blow to Portland — he had become a critical part of their rotation. That has led to a lot of speculation about already shorthanded Portland jumping into the trade market soon looking for someone to absorb those minutes, as well as hitting the buyout market hard next February.

Portland is now looking for a little more money to spend to bring someone in, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The “disabled player exemption” allows a team over some space to go after a replacement for a player lost due to injury. This is a fairly standard process and likely will be approved. Portland can use that money on a free agent (Iman Shumpert is available again) or someone bought out by another team.

Portland is 10-16 on the season, set back in part due to injuries to the front line. The Blazers knew Jusuf Nurkic would miss most of the season, and he was vital to them, but they were counting on Zach Collins to step up and absorb those minutes. Then he needed shoulder surgery. Portland eventually turned to Carmelo Anthony to help along the frontline, and he has performed well enough for them to guarantee his contract for the season.

Portland is going to be active, both looking at free agents and on the trade market. Just don’t expect a Kevin Love deal (he may want it but his contract makes that nearly impossible).

Rumor: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul stated intent to join Mavericks until Howard backed out

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard
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The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.

Somewhat by choice.

Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.

Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.

Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.

This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.

This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?

Serge Ibaka says he nearly goaltended Kawhi Leonard’s iconic shot: ‘I would’ve retired’

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Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”

In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.

The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.

Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.