Brandon Ingram’s Pelicans Future Coming Into Focus: Trade Or Extend?

Donovan Mitchell, NBA Trade Rumors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans were on the cusp of a generational leap. Thanks to the insane haul from the Los Angeles Lakers and Zion Williamson’s arrival, the future was bright. However, injuries and questionable roster fit have made them a perennially mediocre NBA team. While not lottery-bound, they have yet to excel at the highest level.

Thanks to a Dejounte Murray trade and the healthiest Zion has ever been, it finally looks like a new day is coming for the Smoothie King Center.

But until that day comes, a few more roster moves are necessary. The team’s biggest visible hole is the lack of a true center. However, even the fitting together of pieces remains a mystery.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans Updates

In Murray, CJ McCollum, and Brandon Ingram, the team has three isolation-heavy scorers who don’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers. As a result, the spacing around Williamson is severely compromised.

Further, reports of growing dissent between Ingram and the front office have been making the rounds for over a year. But there is some good news for Pels fans on that front.

Brandon Ingram coming back?

Even though the need in New Orleans is clear, finding a dance partner is where the Pelicans are struggling. Teams needing a player in the Ingram archetype are going down, especially given the hefty price tag that comes with it. Initially, that was the point of disconnect between the two sides.

While Brandon was looking for a full-scale, four-year, $208 million deal, the Pelicans were far apart from that offer. But, with potential trade partners drying up and teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers dropping out of the contract, it looks like a reunion might be in order.

Right now, the best-case scenario is a move to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In need of a quality wing since acquiring Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs have a surplus of starting caliber Centers.

Swapping out Ingram for an All-Star and rim-protector like Jarrett Allen might be the best-case move. But the spacing in that situation might be below average at best.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans Updates

Further, with the arrival of Kenny Atkinson in Cleveland, management might wait to see how the new pairing turns out. As a result, Brandon Ingram’s return to the Pelicans is emerging as a legitimate possibility.

According to William Guillory of the Athletic, “There’s some optimism within the building that the two sides could come to terms on a deal that makes each happy. Both the Pelicans and Ingram agree that going into training camp without an extension is a distraction they’d prefer to avoid.”

The unlikely but best-case scenario for Pelicans

With the current roster, Murray looks set to resume the Shooting Guard role he held in Atlanta. But, as evidenced with the Hawks, Dejounte works best as the lead guard. Further, a shift to point guard for Murray could include a 3-and-D wing like Herb Jones or Trey Murphy Jr. into the starting lineup. Both offer long-range shooting, further helping spacing beside Zion. That leaves McCollum as the odd man out.

Since his tenure in New Orleans began, the former Trailblazer has been a firm favorite. Whether it be fans, front office, management, teammates, or coaches, McCollum is loved and respected universally.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans Updates

As a result, it remains unlikely that the team will part ways with one of its favorite members. However, in his 30s, McCollum doesn’t bring the same offensive juice as he used to. Plus, at a reasonable price of $33.3 million, his trade could give the team the perfect complementary players to place alongside.

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