Brandon Ingram

Pelicans Ready To Match Any Offer To Brandon Ingram

The Pelicans plan to match any offer for restricted free agent Brandon Ingram, multiple sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. He shares that item as part of a response to a reader’s question on whether the Cavaliers will try to clear cap room for the offseason.

Ingram, who is coming off his first All-Star appearance, is a strong candidate for Most Improved Player. His scoring average has risen from 18.3 to 24.3 PPG and his numbers are up virtually across the board. He also seems to have overcome the Deep Venous Thrombosis issue that forced him to have season-ending surgery last March.

Health concerns factored into the Pelicans’ decision to not give Ingram a rookie scale extension in October, but he has proven his value in his first season in New Orleans. He will be among the top names this offseason in a relatively weak free agent class and should attract plenty of attention from the few teams with cap space.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Pelicans Notes: Ingram, Holiday, Griffin, Hayes

Brandon Ingram has quickly taken over as the first scoring option and the team leader for the Pelicans, writes Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. That status was emphasized this week when Ingram was selected as a reserve for the All-Star Game, becoming the team’s only representative.

Ingram’s stardom didn’t appear to be a sure thing when he was acquired from the Lakers as part of the Anthony Davis trade. He was dealing with a blood clot condition and a shaky shooting history that raised questions on whether he would ever reach his full potential.

“He was always tough to guard,” Jrue Holiday said. “He could always score. Here, I feel like when we really started getting to play with him in the beginning, it was obvious he can do everything.”

Holiday deserves much of the credit for allowing Ingram to seize the spotlight, Kushner adds. Coming into the season, the veteran guard was expected to fill the leadership role, with executive vice president David Griffin calling him the team’s “best player” and a dark horse MVP candidate at media day.

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • It wasn’t long ago that Ingram feared he might have to stop playing because of health concerns, notes William Guillory of The Athletic. The blood clot issue forced him to miss the final 19 games of last season and sometimes left him unable to work out. Doctors assured Ingram that it wouldn’t be a recurring issue, but he feared his career might be cut short. “I came a long way mentally, physically and emotionally. Just continuing to pursue what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I had good help from my teammates, my coaches, from everybody around the organization putting me in this position.”
  • Griffin is relying on his experience with LeBron James as he helps mold Zion Williamson, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Griffin and James were together for three seasons in Cleveland, reaching the NBA Finals each time. “The blessing of having been with LeBron is I learned a lot of what I did wrong,” Griffin said. “Like the time away, I learned a lot of the mistakes we made. And we made a lot of them. And LeBron was so good, he made us win anyway. So it would be a high-class problem that this kid (Williamson) turns out so good that we can make as many mistakes as we did for LeBron and still win.”
  • Jaxson Hayes has apologized for his social media reaction after learning he wasn’t selected for the Rising Stars Challenge, according to Scott Gleeson and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Hayes posted the apology on Instagram, saying he used “extremely poor judgement and inexcusable language.”

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Covington, Randle

The Lakers‘ trade options this winter may be somewhat limited, given their lack of mid-level contracts and the fact that three of their players have the ability to veto deals. However, if they’re willing to move Kyle Kuzma, it could open up some doors.

In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks explore the Lakers’ trade possibilities, noting that packaging Kuzma with both Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins would be enough for the team to bring back a player earning up to $13.5MM.

While ESPN’s duo offers a few ideas for potential targets, Pelton and Marks agree that Timberwolves forward Robert Covington should be “Option A” for L.A in that scenario. According to Marks, Minnesota will likely have the ability to create a bidding war for Covington if he’s shopped leading up to the deadline, so the Lakers’ package wouldn’t necessarily be enough — especially since the Wolves may prioritize acquiring a point guard.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Within that same ESPN Insider article, Marks questions Kuzma’s overall trade value, while Pelton argues the young forward would be more valuable to another team that could benefit more from his shot creation. While there were reports during last year’s Anthony Davis trade talks with the Pelicans that the Lakers insisted on keeping Kuzma, Marks says he heard from reliable sources that New Orleans was actually focused on Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball anyway.
  • Within a mailbag article, Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register looks at some of the potential factors involved in a Kuzma trade with the Kings or another team, while also addressing LeBron James‘ groin issue and Rajon Rondo‘s up-and-down play.
  • With the Lakers set to host the Knicks on Tuesday night, Julius Randle revisited the end of his tenure in Los Angeles in 2018, suggesting that it “wasn’t the right situation” for him, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “Do I wish it would’ve worked out differently? I don’t get into what-ifs,” Randle said. “It worked out how it was supposed to. I’m happy where I’m at now. Everything in life happens for a reason. Highs and lows of life happens for a reason. It made me the person I am today and I’m extremely happy to be a Knick.”

Southwest Notes: Harden, Self, Ingram, Luka

After Russell Westbrook joined James Harden in the backcourt for the new-look 2019/20 Rockets, the team’s offense struggled with counters against half-court double team Harden traps from smart teams like the Nuggets, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko writes.

Iko details how coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden, Westbrook, and their Rockets teammates devised clever solutions to counter the traps. “We figured out a way it’s going to work for us,” wing Danuel House told Iko. “All we gotta do is be ready to knock … shots down or make the right reads. If we don’t have the shot, pass it or drive to get someone else a shot.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Kansas head coach Bill Self responded to chatter from ESPN’s Seth Greenberg and The Athletic’s Sam Amick and John Hollinger that he is being considered to replace Spurs coach Gregg Popovich when the five-time NBA champion eventually retires. “There’s absolutely zero truth to that,” Self said, according to The Kansas City Star’s Gary Bedore. “The thing that cracks me up about some media types is the more outlandish things you can say … what it was, was [Greenberg’s] ‘Bold Predictions for 2020 [segment].’ You grab something or throw something against the wall and hope something sticks.”
  • Pelicans star forward Brandon Ingram has been having a breakout season in New Orleans, averaging 25.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 3.8 APG this year. Andrew Lopez of ESPN takes a look at how Ingram, in the final season of his rookie contract, has carved out a place for himself on his new team. The 22-year-old, who will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020, was just named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week.
  • Clippers consultant Jerry West has very high praise for rising Mavericks star Luka DoncicKevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News reports. “One player has transformed them into a playoff team,” West said. “[Doncic] will be the best player Dallas has ever had… I have great respect for [Dirk] Nowitzki, but Dirk is not him.” West has won nine titles as a player and executive in a storied Hall-of-Fame career.

Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday Available Via Trade?

The Pelicans are believed to consider Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram untouchable in trade talks, and have remained reluctant to trade J.J. Redick, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). However, according to Stein, there’s a belief that Jrue Holiday is available via trade.

Stein cautions that it would surely require a substantial offer to convince the Pelicans to part with Holiday. Based on Stein’s report, it sounds like the team is open to listening to inquiries, but won’t actively shop its standout guard.

Still, as recently as this summer, when David Griffin took over as New Orleans’ head of basketball operations, Holiday was viewed as entirely off-limits. It appears the club’s dismal 6-21 start to the season has influenced the front office’s thinking on the subject.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested on Sunday that Holiday loves New Orleans, but might not be opposed to a change of scenery if it means avoiding an extensive rebuild.

Holiday, 29, is considered one of the NBA’s best defensive guards, and has also been his usual productive self on offense so far this season. In 25 games, he has averaged 19.4 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a .454 FG% and a .338 3PT%. He has shot 48.9% from the field and 38.9% on threes over his last 17 games, following an early-season slump.

Holiday is under contract through at least 2020/21, with matching cap hits of $26.2MM this season and next season. He also has a $27.1MM player option for 2021/22. If the Pelicans begin fielding trade offers in earnest, he could quickly become the most intriguing player on the trade block this winter.

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Ingram, Davis

Kyle Kuzma continues to search for his fit on this year’s Lakers, as Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes.

“It’s tough sometimes, but you just have to be positive, have an even-keeled mindset. But that’s easier said than done,” Kuzma said. “It’s something I’ve got to kind of figure out. But it isn’t anything I can’t handle.”

Kuzma has scored 10 or fewer points in half of the 14 games he’s played this season. In 70 games last season, he scored 10 or fewer just seven times as well.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Brandon Ingram spoke with Mark Medina of USA Today about the environment in Los Angeles last season. “The team was a little rattled. Coming in every day, it wasn’t always good,” Ingram said. “It wasn’t always good energy.” The former No. 2 overall pick was sent to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal.
  • The trade talks surrounding half the players on the Lakers became public last season and while it would have been better to keep the discussions out of the spotlight, Ingram says he isn’t too bothered by how everything went down. “I’ve never been in a position of GM. I don’t know how it could’ve been handled,” Ingram said (via Medina’s piece). “I know it’s hard decisions to be made. I know these decisions had to be made to make them a better team, and they’re obviously a better team this year. So I don’t know how I would’ve handled it. They had to handle it how they handled it, and it worked out great.”
  • Davis, who has been reunited with DeMarcus Cousins in Los Angeles, believes the duo could have done great things in New Orleans if they would have been given more time together, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register relays. The Pelicans allowed Cousins to leave in free agency in 2018.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
More appropriately, Ingram’s stock is way, way up. Ingram’s last season with the Lakers was cut short by a blood clot issue. He averaged 18.3 PPG but there was still skepticism just how good Ingram was. He’s answered that emphatically in his first 13 games with the Pelicans, posting All-Star level numbers (26.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 45.9 percent on 3s). The Pelicans will make him a restricted free agent by extending a $9.48MM qualifying offer. Will Ingram re-sign with New Orleans, sign a big offer sheet, or sign the QO and test unrestricted free agency the following summer? For sure, he’ll get paid.

Courtney Lee, Mavericks, 34, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2016
Lee’s value to Dallas is mainly his expiring contract, which could prove useful as the Mavs look to acquire another piece to their vastly improved squad. Lee’s playing time has been mainly limited to garbage-time minutes. After two solid seasons with the Knicks, Lee’s career has declined the past two seasons. His 3-point prowess (38.7 percent for his career) might earn him a short-term deal next summer but he won’t be making anywhere near $12MM next season.

Gerald Green, Rockets, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Have we seen the last of Green in the NBA? That’s a strong possibility, considering his age and long-term rehab from a foot injury. He underwent surgery in late October and is expected to miss the regular season and likely the postseason as well. Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, has made prior stops with Boston, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New Jersey, Indiana, Phoenix and Miami during his professional career. He was a major contributor off the Rockets’ bench last season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 2.5 PPG in 73 contests. Another veteran’s minimum deal is his best hope.

Marco Belinelli, Spurs, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Belinelli’s perimeter shooting has made him one of the league’s most reliable second-unit players for years. The shooting touch has abandoned him, one of the many reasons the Spurs have struggled this season. Belinelli is shooting just 29 percent from the field while averaging 5.2 PPG. He has averaged in double figures off the bench for the past four seasons. Gregg Popovich has continued to give him steady minutes, so Bellinelli’s production should return to the norm. But if his playing time is reduced, he may have to settle for the veteran’s minimum next summer.

Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies, 23, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
Brooks was limited to 18 games last season, mainly due to a toe injury that required surgery in January. He has come back at full strength and started every game this season for the Grizzlies. He’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.3 PPG while making 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. It’s a foregone conclusion the Grizzlies will extend a $2MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer. The 2017 second-round pick will get a substantial pay raise regardless of how his free agent journey unfolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Iguodala, Ball, Ingram, Doncic

The Grizzlies haven’t softened on their stance of resisting a buyout with Andre Iguodala, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link from Siva Kodali). In a report last night, Wojnarowski said teams with interest in acquiring the veteran swingman should be prepared to make trade offers.

“The message that Memphis has delivered to teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Rockets is that you’re going to have to trade for him,” Wojnarowski said. “‘We are not buying him out. He will not be on the free agent market.'”

Iguodala has been in limbo ever since the Warriors shipped him to Memphis in July to open up cap room. He hasn’t spent any time with his new team and is waiting for a deal so he can start playing again. Iguodala would be a valuable addition to just about any contender, but his $17MM+ salary makes it challenging for the top teams to work out a trade.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans should consider using Lonzo Ball off the bench now that Kenrich Williams has claimed a starting spot, contends William Guillory of The Athletic. Injuries forced coach Alvin Gentry to use 11 starting lineups in the first 15 games, but he has more options now that the team is getting healthier. New Orleans has played very well when Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick are on the court together, and with Jrue Holiday holding one starting backcourt position, that doesn’t leave room for Ball.
  • Ingram has displayed All-Star potential through the first month of the season, observes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. The Pelicans didn’t reach an extension with Ingram before last month’s deadline, but Kushner believes a long-term deal this summer is virtually certain, even if it means the team has to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent.
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN looks at how Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle learned to trust Luka Doncic during a sometimes difficult first season in Dallas. Doncic’s occasional carelessness with the ball wasn’t a good fit for a no-nonsense coach like Carlisle, but he understood that his rookie guard needed a chance to develop his game at the NBA level. “For the development of a great player this young, the best thing they can do is make mistakes and grow from those mistakes,” said former Dallas director of player development Mike Procopio. “You can’t freak out over every mistake. Rick understands that. Rick is intelligent. Rick knows this kid is the future of that organization. He can’t get in the way of that.”

Southwest Notes: Wright, Mavs, Pelicans, Ingram

Guard Delon Wright said the Grizzlies played hardball with him this summer during his restricted free agency, which led him to sign an offer sheet with the Mavericks, according to David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis agreed to a sign-and-trade, receiving a pair of second-round picks, after Wright signed the three-year, $27MM contract. “They were playing hardball,” Wright said. “So I had to go find another deal. They were more than willing to accommodate me with a trade. So that was cool.” Wright is averaging 8.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 3.9 APG while playing in all nine games with Dallas this season.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle used seven different starting lineups in the first nine games but he’s hoping to get that settled soon, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. “I’ll keep looking at it,” Carlisle said. “I’m open to getting something consistent, but we talked about this from the beginning that the way we’re structured we’ll probably need to be flexible and fluid. The guys have handled it well.” Ten players have started at least once, with Luka Doncic being the only player who has started all nine games.
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry finds himself with a similar predicament, as NBA.com relays. Gentry has used nine players in the lineup through the first nine games. New Orleans won just its second game of the season on Saturday. “Well, we can do one of two things, and we’ve changed a little bit schematically what we are trying to do. The next step is we have to find somebody that will do it,” he said. “We will start playing different combinations of guys, like we did (Saturday). That’s not a threat, it’s just what you’ve got to do as a coach.”
  • With Zion Williamson sidelined, Brandon Ingram has emerged as the No. 1 Pelicans‘ scoring option ahead of Jrue Holiday, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times Picayune notes. Ingram is averaging 25.9 PPG and 3.9 APG. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer and if he maintains this level of play, the Pelicans will have to offer or match a maximum contract for him, Kushner adds.