Report: Pelicans contacted Sixers regarding potential Brandon Ingram trade

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) is fouled as he drives to the basket between Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed (44) and forward Robert Covington in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Philadelphia 76ers are star-hunting once again this offseason. While much of the conversation has revolved around Los Angeles Clippers free agent Paul George, he’s far from the only option for the Sixers this summer. Other players such as LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, and OG Anunoby have been connected as potential targets, as has New Orleans Pelicans wing Brandon Ingram.

While the offseason has been more speculation than substance so far, recent reporting by The Athletic’s Kelly Iko has stated that the Pelicans officially reached out to the Sixers regarding a potential trade for Brandon Ingram. Iko, who covers the Houston Rockets and the NBA as a whole, reported the news as part of a larger story focused on the Rockets:

New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram was mentioned as a player seen in a lower tier than Mitchell and in recent days, rumors have swirled about the Pelicans dangling Ingram in trade talks and in one iteration, a hypothetical Ingram-for-Alperen Şengün swap was mentioned, but the Rockets have no interest, team sources said. League sources said New Orleans also contacted the Philadelphia 76ers concerning a possible Ingram trade.

Ingram, a 26-year-old former All-Star who has averaged 23.1 points per game over five seasons with New Orleans, has long been the most consistent offensive engine for New Orleans. As Philadelphia continues to search for another star, the appeal of adding a career 20-point-per-game scorer in the middle of his prime is clear, though Ingram is not without his red flags.

It’s noteworthy, but not surprising, that New Orleans seems to be the proactive team based on this phrasing. Contract negotiations between Ingram and the Pelicans have not progressed in months, and it’s been speculated for months that New Orleans would prefer to invest in Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III over Ingram.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) dunks over Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter (34) as Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Toronto on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

The former second-overall pick is in line for a major payday, and someone is going to pay him. However, historically speaking, New Orleans is a team unwilling to spend. They are one of two franchises in the NBA that have never paid the luxury tax, the other being the Charlotte Hornets.

Ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft, the Pelicans are doing their due diligence, looking to obtain further assets to round out their team and secure their financial future. The Sixers don’t have much in terms of playable assets, with Paul Reed, Jeff Dowtin, and Ricky Council IV being the only players currently rostered outside of superstar Joel Embiid. What they do have, however, is draft compensation for New Orleans and the ability to absorb Ingram into their cap space after renouncing the cap holds of the majority of their own free agents.

New Orleans would not see the money from Ingram’s deal reflected in their cap space, as they would still be over the salary cap, but they would open up significant space between themselves and the luxury tax, allowing them to re-sign Jonas Valančiūnas and Naji Marshall without concern of the new CBA.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Naji Marshall (8) reacts with forward Brandon Ingram after a turnover in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the Sacramento Kings in New Orleans, Friday, April 19, 2024. The Pelicans won 105-98. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Meanwhile, Philadelphia would receive a perceived star in return, succeeding in their offseason goal. While Ingram’s true value is somewhat up for debate, and there’s a reason he’s been made available to begin with, Brandon Ingram’s true value lies somewhere between the extremists.

Many have been quick to compare him to Sixers free agent Tobias Harris, and admittedly, there are some shared qualities; however, Ingram is a clearly better fit in Philadelphia than the team’s previous “third star.”

Both are uncomfortably in love with ill-advised shots from the midrange, but Ingram has at least proven to be a go-to-scorer when his team needs a bucket, a skill Philadelphia is in dire need of to alleviate pressure on Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. He’s flawed, surely, but so is every available option for Philadelphia. They simply have to decide if Ingram is the best player available, and if he’s not, they have to identify who that is.