Despite the skillset that Ingram provides, the facts are that he’s seven years into his career and has only made the playoffs once. That, combined with his injury history and more importantly his contractual status, means he may become available at some point over the next 12 months.
Ingram has two seasons and nearly $70 million left on a five-year deal he signed with the Pelicans in 2020. The real question New Orleans must ask themselves is whether they’ll be able to convince him to sign another extension before free agency in 2025? As Tran points out, if the answer to that is no, then the franchise may be best dealing him sooner rather than later.
"“Trading him when his contract will be expiring would be unwise, as the team would get far less in return than if they decide to trade him this year. If Ingram does not indicate that he wants to stay long-term in New Orleans, then the team should try and get a solid package for him so they can build around Zion Williamson”, Tran wrote."
This isn’t a bad deal for the Pelicans in such a situation, although it really hinges on how they value Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Andrew Wiggins may be a slight downgrade from Ingram, but he’s shown far greater durability and availability aside from last season.
The Canadian also has the advantage of championship experience, is still only 28-years-old, and is locked into a team-friendly four-year, $109 million contract. On the floor, his three-and-D style may actually fit better next to Williamson than Ingram’s more mid-range style of game.
The combination of he and Kuminga would provide far greater defensive impact and versatility, which again could prove important next to Williamson and CJ McCollum. Kuminga and Moody only adds to the Pelicans’ haul of young assets, and could be on-traded if another star were to become available for the franchise.