The Pelicans‘ star forward was enjoying a breakout season prior to the stoppage of play in March, averaging 24.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 4.3 APG in his fourth NBA campaign after being included in the blockbuster Anthony Davis swap. He averaged 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.0 APG in his third and final season with the Lakers.
New Orleans will try to hold off five other teams during the restart and secure the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. Ingram felt that he couldn’t let his teammates down despite a big payday looming this offseason.
“I didn’t look at it as if I had a choice of going or not. My teammates knew that I didn’t question it or anything. I just wanted to play basketball at the end of the day,” Ingram said. “I’m going to do it and let my teammates know I’m there 110%. I have to be there. It wasn’t a question.”
The Pelicans will extend a $9,481,458 qualifying offer to Ingram to make him a restricted free agent. He’s unquestionably the top RFA on the market, though few teams have significant salary cap space. Ingram could also gamble and sign the QA, then become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
Ingram isn’t ready to declare that he’ll stick around New Orleans long-term.
“That is definitely a question that will be answered after the season. But how I feel right now? I feel really good about this team,” he said. “I like where I’m at. But that’s a decision that is going to have a lot of factors after the season.”
Ingram does see a bright future for the team and is excited to find out what his teammates can accomplish on the Orlando campus.
“We’re very excited. We’re building some momentum into getting better each and every day,” Ingram said. “Of course we haven’t reached where we want to go. It’s a long ways away. But I think we’re getting steps and steps closer to where we want to get to be at.”
Ingram’s last season in Los Angeles was cut short after team doctors discovered he had a blood clot called deep venous thrombosis. The Pelicans declined to give him a rookie scale extension last year in part because of health concerns.
He left no doubt about his health this season while making his first All-Star appearance.