Brandon Ingram

Southwest Notes: Curry, Mavs, Murray, Ball, Pelicans

Seth Curry played a key role in the Sixers‘ win over the Mavericks on Thursday, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and recording a plus-17 rating in his 29 minutes. Asked after the game if playing against the team that traded him away in the fall provided any extra motivation, Curry responded with a smile.

“Nah, never nothing personal, man,” the Sixers guard said, per Jordan Greer of Sporting News. “I got a lot of respect for a lot of those guys over there (with the Mavericks). I just think they made a bad business decision, but it happens all the time, you know what I’m saying? It is what it is.”

Curry’s ability to knock down 3-pointers has been crucial this season for the Sixers, who weren’t getting that same floor spacing from Josh Richardson. Curry has made a career-best 46.8% of his attempts from beyond the arc this season, while Richardson has a career-worst .301 3PT% for the Mavericks.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs guard Dejounte Murray was hit with a $25K fine by the NBA for kicking the game ball into the stands at the end of the team’s loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the league announced in a press release.
  • After getting off to a slow start this season, Lonzo Ball has played well in his past 20 games, creating a difficult decision for the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of Moving Ball before the trade deadline would open up more minutes for youngsters Kira Lewis and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and would allow New Orleans to avoid paying Ball in restricted free agency, but it would also mean moving on from an improving 23-year-old point guard who has developed good chemistry with franchise player Zion Williamson.
  • Speaking of Williamson, Clark notes in a separate story that the partnership between the former No. 1 overall pick and Pelicans teammate Brandon Ingram has come a long way. “Our relationship off the court has always been there,” Williamson said. “It’s never been a problem with that. I think when it came to on the court, we wanted to learn each other and certain parts of the game. Now, we just kind of know.”

Southwest Notes: Ball, Richardson, Oladipo, Ingram

Lonzo Ball is listed as probable to play Tuesday against Utah after missing three games due to a knee injury, the team’s PR department tweets. Ball practiced in full on Monday, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Picayune Times writes. The Pelicans point guard said he “definitely” plans to play Tuesday, the first of two straight games against the Jazz. In nine games this season, he’s averaging 12.4 PPG and 4.4 APG.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks guard Josh Richardson has returned to Dallas after being quarantined in Denver for 10 days, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets. Coach Rick Carlisle says there’s no timetable for Richardson’s return, MacMahon adds. One of several Dallas players sidelined by a COVID-19 positive or contact tracing, Richardson has not played since January 7.
  • The Rockets appear to be in rebuild mode in the aftermath of the James Harden blockbuster. Victor Oladipo, the most prominent player they acquired in the four-team swap, isn’t buying into that thinking, MacMahon writes at Oladipo, who will be a free agent after the season, expressed optimism after his 32-point debut with the club on Monday. “I know that better days are ahead for the Houston Rockets, and I’m looking forward to being a part of those special days,” Oladipo said.
  • The Pelicans re-signed Brandon Ingram to a five-year max contract in late November and ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at Ingram’s development and desire for greatness. Ingram is averaging 23.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 5.1 APG this season.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Ingram, Rockets, Gabriel

The Spurs have started the season with a 2-3 record, but the franchise believes the best is still yet to come, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

Although San Antonio finished with just a 32-39 record last season, the club is recognized as a world-class organization with a proven track record. Before the 2019/20 campaign, the Spurs had reached the playoffs 23 straight seasons.

“It’s about learning now and not later,” DeMar DeRozan said. “As long as you get the heartaches and the learning curve out of the way the first 10 games of the season, it can take a big turn in the next 60 games. We are leaning toward that.”

The Spurs competed with the defending champion Lakers on Friday, ultimately losing 109-103. The team has a healthy mix of veterans and young players that could propel it to the play-in tournament or possibly beyond, with four of those veterans (DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay) set to reach free agency next summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Pelicans star Brandon Ingram continued to build on his impressive campaign last game, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. Ingram has been the team’s leading scorer in four of six games so far, and had a season-best 31 points on Saturday. “Brandon has been playing great overall,” teammate Zion Williamson said of Ingram, who recently was named the Western Conference Player of the Week. “He always steps up for us. When we need him, he’s there for us.”
  • The Rockets are still searching for answers when it comes to their rotation, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Houston has a talented roster led by former Most Valuable Player James Harden, but health issues and COVID-19 protocols have prevented Houston from establishing a consistent rotation so far.
  • Pelicans big man Wenyen Gabriel (right knee/quadriceps tendinosis) recently participated in some three-on-three work and hopes to play in Monday’s game against Indiana, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). The team is currently listing his status as questionable.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Lyles, Mavs, Ingram

Around the time that Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey departed the Rockets this fall, James Harden approached team management and ownership with a mandate to either build a championship team around him or trade him somewhere where he could win a ring, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

As Iko observes, this isn’t the first time that Harden has approached the Rockets with that sort of mandate. Sources tell The Athletic that the former MVP told the front office the same thing last year, which ultimately led to the Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook trade. That aligns with a 2019 report which suggested that Harden issued a “him or me” ultimatum to the club regarding Paul.

While it remains to be seen how the Harden situation will play out this time around, the fact that the Rockets were able to navigate a similar quagmire in 2019 helps explain why the team has confidence that it can once again sell the superstar guard on the outlook in Houston.

For more on the Harden situation, check out our roundup from earlier this morning. Here are a few more items from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs forward Trey Lyles is entering a contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021, but he can envision himself in San Antonio beyond this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). I am very comfortable here,” Lyles said. “It is the perfect situation for me, perfect situation for the player I am, the player I see myself being and becoming. I would love to be able to stay here long term.”
  • The Texas Legends – the Mavericks‘ G League affiliate – are among the teams expected to opt out of the proposed G League bubble in Atlanta, sources tell JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks targeted James Johnson this offseason in large part because of his toughness, but he feels as if he can bring more than that to the team, as Dwain Price of writes. “I know what I can bring, I understand why they brought me here,” Johnson said. “I feel it was more than just the toughness and the black belt, but I’m able to play whatever role that’s thrown my way.”
  • The trade kicker on Brandon Ingram‘s new five-year contract with the Pelicans is the maximum allowable 15%, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Pelicans Notes: Ball, Bledsoe, Adams, Holiday, Ingram, Williamson

The Pelicans won’t be choosing between Lonzo Ball and recently-acquired Eric Bledsoe as their starting point guard, according to executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin. New Orleans’ top executive envisions that they’ll form the starting backcourt, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. The Pelicans had a similar setup last season, when Ball and Jrue Holiday shared ballhandling duties. The Pelicans acquired Bledsoe from the Bucks and center Steven Adams from the Thunder, along with draft picks, in a four-team deal that sent Holiday to Milwaukee.

New head coach Stan Van Gundy said that Griffin has prioritized toughness and competitiveness at a very high level, and Bledsoe and Adams fit that mold, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times Picayune tweets.

Griffin and Van Gundy dropped some interesting tidbits during their Monday press conference:

  • Griffin had pursued Adams for a very long time, according to Kushner (Twitter link). Griffin was impressed with Adams since meeting him prior to the 2013 draft. Adams, who was selected with the No. 12 pick that year, received a two-year, $35MM extension as part of the four-team deal.
  • The front office wanted to do right by Holiday by trading him to a title contender, Lopez notes (Twitter link). Griffin said Holiday’s career timeline to compete for a championship differed somewhat from the Pelicans’ timeline.
  • Brandon Ingram‘s five-year contract doesn’t include a player option, Lopez adds in another tweet, but there is a trade bonus. Ingram officially signed the $158.25MM contract on Monday.
  • Zion Williamson will not have any restrictions heading into training camp, according to Van Gundy. The coach anticipates the early days of camp will look different because they haven’t played as much pickup due to COVID-19 restrictions and a short offseason (Twitter link).
  • The team’s disappointing showing in the Orlando restart convinced Griffin the team needed more “elite competitors” and didn’t have “enough of a work ethic identity,” Kushner relays (Twitter link).

Pelicans Re-Sign Brandon Ingram To Five-Year Max Contract

NOVEMBER 30: Ingram has officially signed his new max contract with the Pelicans, the team announced today (via Twitter).

NOVEMBER 24: The top restricted free agent of 2020 is officially off the board, as the Pelicans and forward Brandon Ingram have reached an agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary contract, agents Jeff Schwartz and Jordan Gertler tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The deal will be worth $158.25MM over five seasons.

Ingram, who was ranked No. 2 on our list of 2020’s top free agents, figures to sign the biggest free agent contract of the ’20 offseason, unless Anthony Davis opts for a long-term deal with the Lakers.

After being traded from Los Angeles to New Orleans as part of the package for Davis in 2019, Ingram – who was coming off a blood clot issue that prematurely ended his 2018/19 season – turned down a “more modest” extension offer from the Pelicans, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Ingram’s bet on himself paid off in a big way, as he morphed into the Pelicans’ go-to scorer in 2019/20, averaging 23.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 4.2 APG with a .463/.391/851 shooting line in 62 games (33.9 MPG). The 23-year-old also made an All-Star team for the first time in his career, setting himself up for a maximum-salary deal with New Orleans.

Although Ingram and the Pelicans took a few days to formally reach an agreement, this outcome was always expected — New Orleans would have matched any offer sheet the 6’7″ forward signed, so it made sense for the two sides to negotiate directly and take their time to get something done.

Ingram, whose new contract will run through 2025, represents one of the cornerstone pieces in the Pelicans’ rebuild, alongside Zion Williamson. A young core that also includes Lonzo Ball, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., and Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be complemented in 2020/21 by newly-acquired veterans Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe, as well as sharpshooter J.J. Redick.

With Ingram back under contract, the Pelicans’ major offseason moves should be complete. The team has a tiny of bit of breathing room below the tax line and doesn’t plan to fill its 15th roster spot with another guaranteed contract for now, per Will Guillory of The Athletic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Wood, Ingram, Bane, Tripp

Of all the free agents who signed this offseason, no one had a more difficult path to a big-money deal than Christian Wood, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Wood went undrafted out of college, played for five NBA teams and was waived in China before breaking through last season with the Pistons.

“Coming back from China (in 2017) and going into the G League, I knew I had to step up,” Wood said. “I actually got cut from that China team. They said I wasn’t good enough at the time. That chip on my shoulder from me being undrafted and me being waived from there, I knew I had to change. It’s a journey I wouldn’t put anybody on. It’s a journey I learned a lot from to get to where I am now. I wouldn’t have asked for it to be any other way because it made me (get) to where I am now.”

Wood is reuniting with new Rockets head coach Stephen Silas, who was an assistant in Charlotte when Wood played there in 2016/17. He is looking forward to being part of Silas’ five-out offense, which requires big men who can shoot from the outside.

“I like to get out and run,” Wood said. “I know the Houston Rockets like to get out and run. The way James (Harden) and other guys play around him, I think I can be a great fit.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Brandon Ingram‘s new contract shows the Pelicans consider him as much a part of their future as Zion Williamson, notes William Guillory of The Athletic. Ingram signed the largest contract of the offseason, earning $158.25MM over the next five years.
  • Desmond Bane‘s deadly outside shot, along with his maturity and competitiveness, inspired the Grizzlies to trade up to the 30th pick, according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Bane averaged 13.6 PPG and shot 44.2% from beyond the arc last season at TCU. “He was a guy that kind of rose to the top because he fits so many things that we’re about here,” said Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins. “He’s a playmaker and he’s unselfish. Those are big things we talked about being a together and unselfish team.”
  • The Grizzlies signed Pacific guard Jahlil Tripp to a training camp contract, the team announced on Twitter. Tripp won Defensive Player of the Year honors last season in the West Coast Conference.

Max Contracts Expected For Ingram, Tatum, Mitchell

Teams around the NBA are projecting Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell to agree to maximum-salary contracts with their respective teams not long after free agency opens, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Ingram, the top restricted free agent on the market this fall, made the All-Star team for the first time in 2020, averaging 23.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 4.2 APG as the Pelicans’ go-to scorer. His maximum salary for the coming season will be $27.3MM and he could earn up to $158.3MM if he signs a full five-year contract. A four-year max deal would be worth $122.2MM.

As for Tatum and Mitchell, neither player is a free agent this year, but both are eligible for rookie scale extensions that will go into effect in 2021/22. They’ve long been considered two of the most likely players from this year’s group of rookie-extension-eligible players to sign lucrative new contracts, so Stein’s report comes as no surprise.

The value of Tatum’s and Mitchell’s contracts will depend on how much the cap increases for the ’21/22 season. A 3% increase would result in a total value of at least $163MM over five years. That number could go a little higher if Rose Rule language is included in their new deals and they make an All-NBA team in 2021.

Stein adds that Anthony Davis is expected to be a max-salary player too, which is a given. A report earlier today indicated that Davis may take his time considering the length and structure of his contract before formally re-signing with the Lakers.

All-Star Brandon Ingram, Others Receive Qualifying Offers

Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram has become a restricted free agent after New Orleans extended him his $9.48MM qualifying offer, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The No. 2 pick by the Lakers in 2016, Ingram was one of the key players moved in the mega-blockbuster summer 2019 trade that sent Anthony Davis from the Pelicans to Los Angeles. He was voted the Most Improved Player and received his first All-Star berth during his inaugural season with the Pelicans in 2019/20. He is widely considered one of the best free agents among the 2020 class.

The Pelicans also issued a qualifying offer to two-way player Zylan Cheatham, Smith noted in a separate tweet. The 6’5″ forward out of San Diego State and Arizona State saw his first NBA action in three games for New Orleans during this past season.

Listed below are a few more updates on two-way players being issued qualifying offers across the NBA. These offers are one-year, two-way deals with a $50K guarantee. While these players are free to accept their QOs, most will probably seek a standard contract with their current team or an offer sheet with a new club, if possible.

  • Two-way Raptors small forward Oshae Brissett was tendered a qualifying offer, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The 6’7″ 21-year-old out of Syracuse appeared in 19 games for Toronto, and is now a two-way restricted free agent.
  • Timberwolves two-way players Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin were both extended qualifying offers by Minnesota, making them two-way restricted free agents, per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Martin, a 6’5″ small forward out of Butler, appeared in 31 games with the Timberwolves, averaging 6.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG. McLaughlin, a 5’11” point guard out of USC, averaged 7.6 PPG and 4.2 APG across 30 games for Minnesota. He also exhibited a solid three-point stroke, knocking down 38.2% of his 2.5 three-point attempts.
  • The Knicks have made two-way point guard Jared Harper a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
  • 6’5″ Jazz two-way forward Jarrell Brantley has been given a qualifying offer by the Jazz, effectively making him a restricted free agent, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Brantley appeared in nine games for Utah.

Southwest Notes: Ingram, Mavericks, Benson, Aldridge

Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, recently crowned the Most Improved Player for the 2019/20 season, made significant strides this season after his trade from the Lakers, per William Guillory of The Athletic.

Ingram specifically credits the time he logged watching game tape, both of himself with the Lakers and of the Pelicans’ offense, with his performative improvement. “When I wasn’t on the court, I just had to visualize things,” Ingram said during a media Zoom conversation Monday. “I had to watch film … It helped me out.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Following an exciting 2019/20 campaign that ended in a 4-2 loss to the Clippers, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at the Mavericks‘ roster. Caplan assesses player performance this season and projects how players will fare next year, looking at everyone from All-Star Luka Doncic to crucial veteran role player Trey Burke.
  • After testing positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Pelicans (and Saints) owner Gayle Benson has been cleared to return to team activities by doctors, per Jeff Duncan of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • The Spurs apparently tried to shop big man LaMarcus Aldridge at this season’s trade deadline, though potential trade partners balked at San Antonio’s requested return haul, as we previously reported.