Fans and people around the league didn’t think very highly of the Pelicans when Brandon Ingram signed a five-year extension with the team back in 2020, but that perception is changing, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com (subscription required). Clark notes that Jonas Valanciunas, Zion Williamson and most recently CJ McCollum have all signed extensions with the franchise after Ingram inked his deal a couple years ago.
“It’s a good place to be,” Ingram said about New Orleans. “They see what’s going on. They see how we bond with each other. How we play on the floor. It’s kind of unheard of in the league, having 14 or 15 guys care about each other and believe in each other and actually want to know about each other. It’s pretty different here.”
The Pelicans have historically struggled in the postseason, having failed to advance past the second round in their 20-year existence. Ingram says the team has its sights set on loftier goals.
“The expectation is to win, especially for our team,” Ingram said. “We just have some added fans. We always believed in what we were doing. The expectation is still the same. I don’t know what the outside expectation is. But for us, it’s to bring a championship to New Orleans.”
Ingram had a great playoff run with New Orleans last season. Despite falling to Phoenix in the first round, the Pelicans and Ingram put up a good fight, with the star forward averaging 27.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 6.2 APG on .475/.407/.830 shooting in six games (39.3 MPG).
Here’s more from the Southwest:
- Guard Reggie Hearn has decided to retire after nine professional seasons, having agreed to join the Spurs as a scout, sources tell our JD Shaw (Twitter link). As Shaw notes, Hearn spent the majority of his career in the G League, holding career averages of 11.0 PPG and 4.3 RPG on .431/.392/.799 shooting in 317 games (218 starts, 27.7 MPG). Hearn also made a brief appearance with the Pistons in 2018, playing three games while on a two-way contract.
- After increasing his averages across the board in year two, former lottery pick Devin Vassell is hoping to have a breakout third season with the Spurs in 2022/23, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “I don’t think I can put into words how excited I am,” Vassell said. “I think it’s going to be a big year, not only for me but for this organization to grow and build. I can’t wait to get this thing going.”
- The Rockets‘ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, have acquired the returning player rights to Louis King from the Westchester Knicks, Shaw tweets. Rio Grande sent Westchester its first-round pick and a second-rounder (via the Maine Celtics) in the NBAGL draft to complete the deal. King holds three years of NBA experience with the Pistons and Kings on two-way contracts. He was waived by Sacramento in February.
- In the recently completed eight-player trade that saw Derrick Favors head to Houston, the Rockets received a staggering $6,363,000 in cash from Oklahoma City, per Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). That’s the maximum amount of cash a team can send in a trade in 2022/23. The Thunder, meanwhile, generated two traded player exceptions worth $10.18MM (Favors) and $4.22MM (Ty Jerome), Pincus adds.