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.