Aside from the coaching situation, NBA personnel in and outside of the bubble will monitor three aspects when it comes to New Orleans: 1. The Brandon Ingram question. He will be a restricted free agent in the offseason and, from people I speak to, has been viewed as a maximum-level player. Teams and agents around the NBA are all awaiting the league’s updated financial estimates for the salary cap over the next month-plus. How will those updates factor in the Ingram equation?
This much is certain, according to one source: The Pelicans plan to re-sign Ingram in the summer and have maintained dialogue all season with his agent, Jeff Schwartz.
Will Guillory: From what we heard from Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram today, it seems both guys are optimistic about the team's future and are looking forward to coming back next year. BI is a restricted free agent. Jrue has one year left on his deal and a player option for the 2021-22 season
Sources inside the Pelicans' front office maintain that they view Ingram as a critical building block going forward. Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told reporters on June 30 that he believes Ingram and Lonzo Ball, who is extension-eligible after the season, both want to continue in New Orleans.
Ingram could have decided to sit out the resumption of the season at Walt Disney World, which is optional for players if they’re OK with a few checks being a little lighter. He likely still would have commanded nine-figure offers. But Ingram said the thought never crossed his mind. “I didn’t look at it like I had a choice of going or not,” Ingram said. “My teammates knew I didn’t question it or anything. I just wanted to play basketball at the end of the day. I always go back to me being hurt. It made me want to come out and play basketball all the time. When I got the chance to do it, I was going to go do it and be full force in it. I know my teammates know I’m there 100%, 110%. I’ve got to be there. It wasn’t a question.”
Right now, Ingram’s focus is on making the playoffs for the first time in his career. Once the Pelicans are finished in Florida, he’ll turn his attention toward free agency. “I think that’s more for after the season,” Ingram said. “This season, I was just so focused being with my teammates and playing basketball. With how last year went, with how I couldn’t finish the season, this year was just about going out where I belong and that I could excel in this new space. I think playing in this, it could help me out.”
Will the Pistons be willing to take a patient approach in free agency. The typical Tom Gores powerplay would be to hand out max contracts to some slightly above average veterans. James L. Edwards III @Naveed C. I'll be absolutely stunned if the Pistons signed anyone to a max contract that isn't named Brandon Ingram. That's the only person in this potential group I could see them offering to.
What happens with New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram in restricted free agency is more divisive. Most executives believe Ingram isn't worth a max contract, which makes his future difficult to predict. "I wonder if [Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin] will hardball [Ingram] and say, 'Get an offer,'" one executive asked. "Where is he getting it from?"
The team is high on Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker moving forward. It also doesn’t have a ton of cap flexibility with the expected restricted free agency offer sheets coming Ingram’s way. League sources are expecting his play this year to earn him max money in offer sheets this summer.
At full strength, the Pelicans have a talented mix of veteran players and young prospects. Jrue Holiday is under contract potentially through the 2021-22 season. JJ Redick signed a two-year deal last summer. 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.
You didn’t come to terms with New Orleans before this season on a contract extension, making you a restricted free agent next offseason. How are you taking that situation? Brandon Ingram: I grew up playing basketball. I never thought about how much money I was going to get in the league. I always just said, ‘I just want to play basketball.’ I think everything is going to handle itself out. Me and Griff [David Griffin, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations] have had conversations and I just came off a major injury that could have taken me out for the rest of my life, which was a blood clot. It’s a decision for him. ‘Are we going to do this at the right number? Are we going to just throw some extra money and say be here? Or are we going to do it the right way, and say let the thing linger around or take over a year or whatever time it seems to get fully healthy?’
Andrew Lopez: Pelicans opting to get a better look at Ingram when healthy before making a deal. Asked Ingram about this yesterday and he smiled and said: “Me and Griff talk. Me and my agent talk. We have good conversations.”
January 22, 2021 | 9:39 pm EST Update
January 22, 2021 | 8:53 pm EST Update
Michael Singer: Michael Malone on if coaching Jokic adds pressure: “I look at it as a blessing. How many guys have the opp. to coach a great player, a high character person, on & off the court, a guy that every day when he comes to the facility, is in a good mood. There’s not many superstars.”