CJ McCollum

Pelicans Reportedly Not Willing To Give Ingram Max Extension

The Pelicans are entering a critical offseason, with former All-Star forward Brandon Ingram entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $36MM in 2024/25.

According to Christian Clark of The Times-Picayune (subscription required), New Orleans tentatively plans to supplement the trio of Ingram, CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson with “better-fitting pieces.”

However, despite having an overall net rating of +4.6 during the regular season, the Pelicans were outscored when their three top scorers shared the court together, Clark writes, and there is a chance at least one of them could be traded.

As of July 1, Ingram will be eligible a four-year, maximum-salary extension projected to be worth $200MM+. While the Pelicans are “open” to the possibility of tacking more years onto his current deal, they are not willing to give him a full max contract, sources tell Clark.

Clark compares Ingram to Zach LaVine, noting that both players have put up strong individual statistics on offense but have missed extended time with injuries throughout their careers. Chicago tried — unsuccessfully — to move LaVine’s max deal during the season, and will reportedly try again this offseason.

According to Clark, if the Pelicans can’t work out an extension with Ingram, they “likely will trade him.” That aligns with previous reporting that Ingram is the “most likely” Pelican to be on the move this summer. Clark points to the Cavaliers and Hawks as teams that might be interested in the 26-year-old.

Clark wonders if New Orleans might be able to acquire Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen from Cleveland for Ingram. I don’t see any world where the Cavs trade Mobley for Ingram, but Allen isn’t far-fetched. Still, Cleveland has its own upcoming financial squeeze, and adding Ingram would only further complicate that situation — Allen is owed far less money ($40MM) over the next two seasons.

The NBA draft lottery is today, but the Pelicans won’t be impacted by that drawing. They do, however, have until June 1 to decide whether they want to keep the No. 17 overall pick (via the Lakers) or instead acquire the Lakers’ unprotected 2025 first-round pick. As of now, Clark hears that New Orleans is inclined to defer the selection, though that isn’t set in stone.

If the Pels do keep the No. 17 pick, Clark says they would likely flip it in a trade. New Orleans also controls the No. 21 overall pick, and Clark is highly skeptical the team would actually keep two first-rounders on a roster that is trying to win right now.

Pelicans Rumors: Zion, Ingram, Hawkins, Murphy, More

After being swept in the first round of the playoffs, head of basketball operations David Griffin said at the end of last month that the Pelicans are going to actively look to improve this summer. Those comments drew plenty of attention from rival executives, Michael Scotto told William Guillory of The Athletic on the latest HoopsHype podcast.

Scotto hears New Orleans plans to build around Zion Williamson and the Pelicans will be looking for “positional upgrades to improve their spacing” around the former No. 1 overall pick. Guillory confirms the team was pleased with Williamson’s progress — both on and off the court — particularly in the second half of the season.

Rival front offices view Brandon Ingram as the “most likely” Pelican to be dealt this offseason, per Scotto. As Scotto notes, Ingram is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $36MM in 2024/25.

According to Guillory, if Ingram were to hit unrestricted free agency in 2025, he would likely receive a max or near-max deal, which is what his camp would almost certainly be seeking in a potential extension. Still, trading Ingram after he was hampered by a knee injury and struggled mightily in the postseason isn’t ideal from a value perspective, so it’s challenging to come up with deals that make sense for New Orleans, Guillory observes.

Here’s more on the Pelicans from Scotto and Guillory:

  • Aside from finances, one of the reasons the Pelicans may be open to moving Ingram is they want to get more playing time for a pair of high-volume floor spacers in Jordan Hawkins and Trey Murphy, according to Scotto. Hawkins struggled to crack the rotation in the second half of his rookie campaign due to the team’s backcourt depth and his defensive shortcomings, Guillory notes, but the team remains high on his upside.
  • As for Murphy, he’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, and Scotto believes the North Carolina native will be seeking a deal for at least $25MM annually, pointing to the contracts Devin Vassell and Jaden McDaniels signed last offseason as “starting points.” Guillory thinks the team would prefer to extend Murphy before next season begins rather than waiting until restricted free agency in 2025.
  • Scotto expressed skepticism that CJ McCollum will be traded due to his leadership and professionalism, and Guillory has heard similarly, stating that the 32-year-old guard likely has more value to the Pelicans than rival teams. McCollum also set a franchise record for three-pointers made in ’23/24, Guillory notes, so he’s certainly capable of spacing the floor.
  • There’s an expectation that Jonas Valanciunas will likely sign with a new team in free agency, per Scotto. Guillory says he’d be “pretty surprised” if the Lithuanian center returned to New Orleans after he was benched at times down the stretch of the season. While he wasn’t an ideal fit with Williamson, Valanciunas should have some value on the open market, Guillory adds, since he remains productive and has been quite durable throughout his career.
  • Another free agent who could be on the move is Naji Marshall, with Guillory stating the team is “pretty much sold that he’s leaving” due to financial reasons. The 26-year-old wing shot a career-best 38.7% from three, is a solid defender, and is one of the few Pelicans who played well in the postseason, so he’ll be a name to watch in free agency, Guillory notes.
  • While the Pelicans could decline their team option on Jose Alvarado to make him a restricted free agent, Guillory doesn’t think that will happen. Alvarado is “very motivated” to stay with New Orleans, but Guillory suggests the team will likely wait a year before deciding what to do with him.
  • The Pelicans could also make some minor changes to their coaching staff, Scotto reports.

And-Ones: Towns, Media Rights, California Classic, Howard

Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns has been named the NBA’s Social Justice Champion for the 2023/24 season, the league announced in a press release.

The four-time All-Star is a voting rights advocate and supported Minnesota’s Restore the Vote bill last year, which “restores the right to vote to thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals.” Towns also advocates for changes to the criminal justice and education systems in the U.S.

Heat center Bam Adebayo, Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, Thunder wing Lindy Waters and Clippers guard Russell Westbrook were the other finalists.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • On an earnings call, TNT (Warner Bros. Discovery) CEO David Zaslav was cautiously optimistic about retaining media rights to NBA games, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this negotiation, and we have strategies in place for the various potential outcomes,” Zaslav said. “However, now is not the time to discuss any of this since we are in active negotiations with the league. And under our current deal with the NBA, we have matching rights that allow us to match third-party offers before the NBA enters into an agreement with them.”
  • Zaslav’s comments came on the heels of various reports saying NBC has submitted a $2.5 billion bid to be the league’s third media rights partner, joining ESPN/ABC (Disney) and Amazon, which already have framework deals in place. According to Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal, NBC is still viewed as the frontrunner, ahead of TNT.
  • The 2024 California Classic will be co-hosted by the Kings and Warriors, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. California’s Summer League – a prelude to Las Vegas Summer League – will take place from July 6-10 and will feature 12 total games. The Kings, Hornets and Spurs will play in Sacramento and the Warriors, Lakers and Heat will play in San Francisco. Sacramento will head to the Chase Center to face Golden State on July 10 to wrap up the event, Anderson writes.
  • Former NBA guard Markus Howard was granted permission to play for Puerto Rico ahead of the country’s Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, the federation announced in a press release. The former Marquette star led the EuroLeague in scoring while playing for Spain’s Baskonia this season, BasketNews notes. “We are very happy to welcome Markus to our national team,” said Carlos Arroyo, general manager of Puerto Rico’s national team. “Markus has become one of the best players in Europe, and for us, it is a luxury to have him. His offensive level will raise the expectations of our team.”

Pelicans Notes: Offseason, Ingram, Center, Point Guard

Entering the final day of the regular season earlier this month, the Pelicans just needed a victory to secure the No. 6 seed in the West. However, they lost that game, lost their first play-in game, and lost star forward Zion Williamson in that contest to a hamstring injury that turned out to be a season-ender. New Orleans ultimately claimed the No. 8 seed in the West, but was quickly dispatched by the Thunder in a four-game sweep.

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters (Twitter video link), head of basketball operations David Griffin said there were “so many positives” to take away from the season, pointing to the Pelicans’ league-best 28-14 road record and their sixth-best net rating (+4.6). But while he acknowledged that the team was once again bitten by the injury bug at an inopportune time, he said the front office can’t just bring back the same group and hope for better health luck next season.

“In the past, we’ve always erred on the side of continuity, and our takeaway has always been, ‘Let’s see this group healthy.’ I think we’ve seen it enough,” Griffin said. “I think we had a really, really good opportunity to see Zion play a career high in games. I think we saw it for segments of time well enough to understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do. Because it is a historically good Western Conference, there are teams that didn’t make the playoffs that are going to get radically better this offseason. We need to do the same. I think you’ll see a real sense of urgency from all of us to do that.

“… I want to be really, really clear,” Griffin added (Twitter video link). “This is not going to be a summer of complacency. It’s time to get better.”

The Pelicans aren’t quite as loaded with draft assets as they once were, but they’re still in good position to make a deal heavy on picks. They control all their own future first-round selections, an unprotected Lakers first-rounder (they can take this year’s No. 17 pick or defer it to 2025), an unprotected Bucks first-rounder (2027), and swap rights with Milwaukee in 2026.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans will face a significant decision this offseason on Brandon Ingram, as the star forward prepares to enter the final year of his maximum-salary contract following an ugly series vs. the Thunder (14.3 PPG on .345/.250/.895 shooting). As Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes, if they don’t want to enter next season with Ingram on an expiring deal, the Pels will have to determine this summer whether to trade or extend him. “That’s not in the front of my mind right now,” Ingram said after Monday’s Game 4 loss. “This is a place where I got my first All-Star (appearance). Where they let me be myself. I have good relationships with everyone. But you never know. I will take a few weeks off and think about what’s best for me, what’s best for my family. Then take it from there.”
  • While sorting out Ingram’s future will likely be their top priority, the Pelicans have plenty of important items on their summer to-do list, according to offseason previews from ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Mark Deeks of HoopsHype. Trey Murphy will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, Naji Marshall will be an unrestricted free agent, and New Orleans would presumably like to find a center who can reliably close games after having to bench both Jonas Valanciunas and Larry Nance in certain matchups. Valanciunas will also be a free agent this offseason.
  • Adding a traditional point guard to their roster may be another item on the Pelicans’ offseason to-do list. Asked today about that possibility, Ingram acknowledged, “It would definitely be helpful” (Twitter link via Clark). CJ McCollum has been New Orleans’ primary point guard since being acquired from Portland, but it’s not his original position.

Western Notes: Williamson, Wolves, Prosper, Tate

The 44-point loss to the Lakers during the in-season tournament proved to be a turning point for the Pelicans, according to Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune. Zion Williamson was heavily criticized by announcers and analysts for subpar conditioning and he took those harsh words to heart. Williamson appeared in his 70th game of the season on Sunday, a career high.

“I feel great,” Williamson said prior to the Pelicans’ loss to the Lakers on Sunday. “I’m having fun. In terms of stacking my days, it’s doing all the little things. Recovery. Extra recovery. Conditioning. Extra conditioning. Then when we are in practice, bringing a high intensity, so my body can be used to that.”

The December loss also inspired the rest of the Pelicans. “Sometimes you need to get your (butt) kicked on a national stage,” CJ McCollum said. “You hope it doesn’t happen. But when it does, it’s really interesting to see how everyone responds. You got two things you can do: You can fold or you can rise to the occasion. I think we have a group that genuinely rose to the occasion.”

The Lakers and Pelicans will match up once again during the play-in tournament on Tuesday.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Timberwolves are a more mature team heading into this year’s playoffs, Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune opines. They don’t have any major injury issues at the moment and Scoggins doesn’t feel the team’s ownership dispute will be a distraction. The Timberwolves have earned respect around the league and created a buzz in their home state but need a strong playoff run to validate their regular season showing.
  • Mavericks rookie Olivier-Maxence Prosper received his first career start on Sunday. Prosper had a 16-point, six-rebound, two-steal outing in 29 minutes against the Pistons on Sunday. He spent a good portion of the season in the G League and believes that fostered his development, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. “You guys know my story this year,” he said. “Playing up and down in the G – I see the improvement in my game. I see how much more comfortable I feel out there and more poised.”
  • The Rockets’ win over the Trail Blazers on Friday proved to be a nice payday for forward Jae’Sean Tate. He gained a $500K bonus due to his team winning 40 games this season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Kyrie, Ingram, McCollum

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is the heavy betting favorite to be named this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. However, Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama, who is leading the NBA in blocked shots despite averaging just 28.8 minutes per game, is considered a likely finalist for the award in his rookie year.

Responding in French to a reporter from his homeland on Thursday, Wembanyama said that Gobert has earned the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2024, but suggested he intends to supplant his fellow Frenchman as the favorite in future seasons, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

“I know that Rudy has a very good chance of winning it this year, and it would be deserved,” Wembanyama said. “Let him win it now, because after that, it’s no longer his turn.”

Wembanyama is one of the most talented rim protectors to enter the NBA in years. Besides racking up blocked shots, he frequently uses his 7’4″ frame and eight-foot wingspan to force opposing players to alter their shots.

“He makes guys think about shooting layups that are usually just gimmes, easy shots, little bunnies around the rim,” teammate Tre Jones said. “He’s making guys question it, dribble out. And it’s been some of the best players in the league. We all see his dominance on the defensive end and it’s only going to get better.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving has a “deep desire” to play for Team USA in the Paris Olympics this summer, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back (Twitter video link). Irving has previously won gold medals at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics with Team USA, but wasn’t one of the 11 players identified a couple weeks ago as a virtual lock or a “strong candidate” to be part of this year’s team. Still, that group could change in the coming months.
  • Brandon Ingram is best known for his abilities as a scorer, but his Pelicans teammates and coaches are impressed with the strides he has made as a defender, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Trey Murphy said that Ingram has made “humongous steps” on defense and is “taking those steps to become a two-way superstar.”
  • Veteran guard CJ McCollum spent the first eight-and-a-half seasons of his NBA career in Portland, but he has found a new home in New Orleans with the Pelicans, both on and off the court, as William Guillory details for The Athletic. “I’m serious about my commitment to New Orleans. I don’t do this for play-play,” McCollum said. “This place holds a special place in my heart, and my family feels the same way.”

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, McCollum, Mavs, Exum, Hill

Victor Wembanyama has been posting eye-popping numbers across the board but the Spurs coaching staff knows he’s just scratching the surface of his true potential, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes.

The Spurs wants the star rookie to grow at a comfortable pace.

“We want to continue the process. We consistently remind him to be disciplined, and to do the little things. We want him to be strong when he’s catching the ball. We go over different nuances on the scouting report, things like that,” Spurs assistant coach Mitch Johnson said. “One of the hardest things for us is knowing that he’s capable of doing so much. So, we don’t want to open up the floodgates and put too much on him. We want him to figure things out as he goes. We want to provide the structure where he can continue to grow.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum didn’t play against Chicago this weekend due to a sore left ankle but he went through a full practice on Monday, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. McCollum and Zion Williamson (left foot contusion) are listed as questionable to play against the Knicks on Tuesday, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Mavericks have an open roster spot but that may change in the near future. Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News hears that the front office is definitely looking to add a player if it finds the right fit.
  • Mavericks swingman Dante Exum hasn’t played since Jan. 26 due to a knee injury but he’s close to returning. Exum practiced on Monday, though he’s listed as doubtful to suit up against Cleveland on Tuesday, Townsend tweets.
  • Malcolm Hill‘s two-way contract with the Pelicans is a two-year deal, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Hill, a third-year swingman, signed his two-way deal on Thursday.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Jackson, Mavs, McCollum

Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama became the youngest player to record an elusive 5×5 on Friday, recording at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in the same game. Wembanyama joined Jamaal Tinsley as the only rookies in league history to accomplish the feat and he became just the second player, behind Michael Jordan, to record back-to-back games of five steals and five blocks.

What Wembanyama is doing as a rookie is unheard of, as emphasized by his stat line against the Lakers: 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and five steals. In his last four games, the rookie is averaging 24.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.8 blocks, 5.5 assists and 3.3 steals.

Still, Wembanyama’s postgame comments suggest he’s more concerned about trying to win games than individual stats. When asked about joining Jordan in the history books, Wembanyama said “I wonder if he did it in wins,” according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.

Lakers superstar LeBron James had high praise for the 20-year-old rookie phenom after the game, calling Wembanyama one of the best rookies he’s ever seen.

He doesn’t have a ceiling,” James said. “He can do whatever he wants to do with his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems like he puts in the work. Just from the outside looking in, I’m not with him on a day-to-day basis, but I said a long time ago how special he was, and it’s literally that simple.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies rookie GG Jackson II has been one of the bright spots of an unusually tough season in Memphis and it looks like his offensive role with the team is going to continue to grow. According to Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal, coach Taylor Jenkins said the team will look to transition Jackson from a secondary creator to a primary one and will put the ball in his hands more, though he’ll likely continue to come off the bench. “I feel like they put a lot of trust in me and they see the confidence in my game,” Jackson said.
  • The Mavericks are on a seven-game win streak despite having dealt with a plethora of injuries all season, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic. To illustrate just how unhealthy the Mavs have been, Cato points out that Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic have played fewer total games together (45) since Irving joined the team midway through last season than Bucks stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard have. Now, after trading for P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the deadline and getting players healthier, head coach Jason Kidd will have rotation questions to sort through. “We’re deep,” Kidd said. “This is the first time the Mavs have been deep in a long time.” Outside of Doncic, Irving and their new trade acquisitions, Dereck Lively, Josh Green and Derrick Jones Jr. are among those who have impressed this year.
  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum suffered a left ankle injury on Friday night against Miami and did not return after initially being deemed questionable, according to team PR (Twitter link). McCollum is averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 assists per game this season for New Orleans.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, McCollum, Doncic, Mavericks

The Pelicans are 33-22 and have the same record as the fifth-seeded Suns. Still, they’ve got room to improve, as evidenced by several close games against some of the league’s bottom teams, according to The Athletic’s William Guillory. New Orleans won three games in a row against the Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Wizards, but they were all decided by single digits. In the wins over Memphis and Washington, the Pelicans squandered 20-point leads before coming back late to win.

When we get a lead, especially if we want to make a deep run in the playoffs, we’ve got to be able to maintain leads,Zion Williamson said. “If we were able to maintain leads, we would probably be 14, 15, 16 games over .500. I think we’re in an OK spot. But when we come back from break, we’ve got to be able to fine-tune some of those small nuances in the game.

The team’s offense and defense has been a mixed bag, according to Guillory, and neither Williamson nor Brandon Ingram has been consistent with his dominance. While the Pelicans are deep with young players and solid rotation pieces, they’re still attempting to build consistency, which will be crucial as the playoff approach.

I think we’re learning to grow with each other,” coach Willie Green said of the team. “This group is still pretty young in terms of [our starters] being on the floor together for this long in the season. Along the way, we’re starting to figure it out, but I think that plays a role in some of the inconsistencies we’ll see from time to time. We just have to stay committed to working the kinks out.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum is pleased with how Williamson and Ingram have progressed since he joined the team in 2022, according to Sportskeeda’s Mark Medina. “They have a better understanding of their game and their bodies with what they need to do each day to be ready to play, when to rest and when to workout,” McCollum said as part of an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda. “Their IQ is continuing to improve as well as their decision making. They’re just playing their total games with scoring, rebounding and passing. Defensively, I think they have gotten better and have been more aggressive. The more they rebound on defense, the better we are on offense.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic, like many other All-Stars, had no intention of being offensively assertive during the East’s 211-186 victory over the Western Conference in the 2024 All-Star Game, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News writes. Doncic had seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the game and was content to let others shine. “People come in here and play 40 minutes, they don’t want to get injured,” Doncic said. “Everybody just gets out of the way. I don’t know how to fix that. I just follow the lead.
  • The Mavericks are in a much better position at this All-Star break compared to last season, even if there’s been less buzz surrounding the team, Townsend writes. The Mavs are 32-23 and are tied for the longest winning streak in the league at six games whereas last year they were 31-29 and were five games into the Kyrie Irving-Doncic pairing. After acquiring P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the deadline, Dallas looks more capable of approaching 50 wins this season, according to Townsend.
  • In case you missed it, Grizzlies forward Lamar Stevens and Spurs forwards Marcus Morris and Cedi Osman are among players we’re monitoring as possible buyout options.

Pelicans Notes: Murray, McCollum, Valanciunas, Zion, Ingram, Marshall

The Pelicans didn’t make a move at Thursday’s trade deadline, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, according to head of basketball operations David Griffin, who told reporters that the team had been “in what felt like ‘deal’ mode for a long time,” per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Ultimately though, there was nothing out there that the front office thought made sense for the club.

“One of the things we find — and this goes back to times in Phoenix and Cleveland — you always try to talk about improving on the margins,” Griffin said. “You have to be really good to be better than the players we have on the margins; to be better than the guys we play rotational minutes. There just wasn’t the right opportunity for us to go after.”

The Pelicans were the subject of an intriguing trade rumor during the final 24 hours before the deadline, when they were linked to Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, but Sam Amick of The Athletic hears from a team source that those talks never got serious. According to Amick, the Pelicans felt they were being used as leverage for the Hawks in their talks with the Lakers.

Asked about New Orleans’ reported discussions with the Hawks, Griffin didn’t deny that they took place and said his team was trying to be “opportunistic,” according to Clark.

“A player of a caliber that you mentioned and the team you mentioned, you listen to those types of things,” Griffin said. “You try to get as much information as you can. At the same time, you don’t have to force a square peg into a round hole when you’re in the situation we are in. I think we wanted to listen and be willing to strike if it was the right opportunity. And we were mindful of the fact that we like our group if it wasn’t.

“… I think we decided overall, the cost was much too high. We weren’t a team that felt like we had to do anything.”

Here’s more out of New Orleans:

  • In his comments to the media on Friday, Griffin praised veterans CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas for the sacrifices they’ve made for the sake of the team. “I think CJ McCollum should get a hell of a lot more credit. He’s completely changed his shot profile,” Griffin said, per Clark. “… (And) Jonas has embraced this entire season in a way you almost never see from a veteran starting center who doesn’t have a contract for next year. He understands what he needs to do, and he’s joyful doing it here. He’s willing to make whatever sacrifice he needs to do. … He’s having an incredible defensive year.”
  • Asked about what kind of center would be an ideal fit next to Zion Williamson, Griffin said the Pelicans think more about which players would best complement their big three of Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and McCollum. Griffin went on to say that New Orleans would ideally have more shooting and rim protection but that it’s not easy to find well-rounded players who can provide one or both of those traits.
  • Here’s more from Griffin, via Clark, on the Pelicans’ ideal center: “I think what goes along with the three of them is sort of TBD to some degree. They are going to have to be pretty good to be better than Jonas. People say, ‘They need this kind of center.’ Well, that kind of center might not be a radically better basketball player or even as good of a basketball player. I think we sometimes lose sight of how incredibly good (Valanciunas) is because we spend so much time as a fan base talking about what he’s not. The ideal fit around those three guys is what advances us to win playoff games. We don’t know we don’t have that right now.”
  • The Pelicans don’t control a second-round pick until 2030 and could have replenished their second-round assets to some extent by trading Naji Marshall on Thursday, according to Clark, who hears from sources that the wing drew interest from multiple teams. However, New Orleans opted to hang onto Marshall, who is on track to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
  • Will Guillory of The Athletic takes a look at the recent reemergence of “Point Zion” and examines what it means for the Pelicans if Williamson continues to embrace his adjusted role, which involves much of the club’s half-court offense running through him. The former No. 1 overall pick has handed out 10 or more assists in a game twice since January 23 after never recording more than nine assists in any of his first 149 NBA contests.
  • Within a wide-ranging conversation with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Ingram said he doesn’t “plan on missing” any more All-Star games and joked that the coaches who didn’t vote for him as an All-Star reserve constantly double-team him when they face the Pelicans.