Thanks to a massive trade pitch. The Lakers are reunited with a $158. million West Foe star .

Thanks to a massive trade pitch. The Lakers are reunited with a $158. million West Foe star .


Blockbuster Trade Pitch Reunites Lakers With $158 Million Star From West Foe

The Los Angeles Lakers came up empty in free agency, but a couple of big-name trade possibilities remain on the chess board, including Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Dealing for Ingram as a third star next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be more than a little ironic, as Los Angeles selected the star forward with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft before dealing him to the Pelicans in July 2019 as part of the agreement that secured Davis.

Ingram became an All-Star in his first campaign in New Orleans and has blossomed into a perennial 20-points per game scorer, averaging between 20.8-24.7 points in each of the previous five seasons, all with the Pelicans. He is entering the final year of a $158 million contract and looking for a maximum extension of $208 million over four seasons.

Jacob Rude of SB Nation noted on Tuesday, July 9, that New Orleans is more than a little hesitant to pay Ingram that much considering all the big contracts already on its books for Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum and Dejounte Murray, as well as those the franchise will need to pay down the line. As such, Ingram is on the trade block and the type of player who could help L.A.

“While LeBron ended the free agency flexibility — something the market also ended as well — there are still trade options available. And one very interesting name could be old friend Brandon Ingram,” Rude wrote. “The Lakers have the draft picks needed, whether to trade or swap, and are familiar with working out big deals with the Pelicans’ front office. … The Lakers would either need to involve a third team to find a center or hope the Pelicans start feeling a little more desperate.”

Pelicans Unlikely to Desire D’Angelo Russell in Trade With Lakers, Complicating Potential Deal

However, the Lakers do not possess what the Pelicans want and need the most out of an Ingram trade — a viable starting center — which renders the deal a long shot.

What Los Angeles does have are two first-round picks in 2029 and 2031, as well as a handful of pick swaps in between those seasons that could — and probably should — interest New Orleans. A third team will likely prove necessary, however, because D’Angelo Russell is the salary piece the Lakers most likely can afford, and want, to unload to make the money work on an Ingram deal.

Russell will earn nearly $19 million in 2024-25, while Ingram will make north of $36 million. Due to league rules, the Lakers must include more salary than that to trade for Ingram, so they would need to include more player assets in any agreement, though Russell would remain the centerpiece.

Who that team might be, what it might want in return and how the Lakers and Pelicans might make that all happen is where the details get complicated and several potential, yet extremely murky, options abound. However, the fact that Russell opted into the final year of his expiring contract indicates there was little to no market for him around the league at his desired price, which narrows the list of candidates to those franchises willing to take on bad salary this season in order to free up cap space for 2025-26.

Pelicans Struggling to Offload Brandon Ingram Anywhere in NBA

The flip side of the coin is that New Orleans has been hunting for a trade partner for Ingram and, as of yet, has come up empty.

It isn’t that Ingram isn’t a good player. However, he played a poor series against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a first-round playoff sweep, scoring just 14.3 points per game on 34.5% shooting, which brought low his stock heading into the offseason.

He also struggled through a bone bruise to his knee in March, which cost him several games during the stretch run and served as the latest in a long line of health problems. Ingram has played in more than 60 games just three times in seven years and has topped 64 contests played only once, during his rookie campaign in 2016-17.

“Ingram getting traded felt like a forgone conclusion once free agency began,” William Guillroy of The Athletic reported on July 8.

Guillroy went on to note, however, that most of the likely suitors dried up after making deals of their own. He added that the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers are the “two most obvious trade partners” remaining. But the Cavs are not enthused about swapping center Jarrett Allen for Ingram, while Ingram isn’t a great fit alongside Magic stars Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

“Without an Ingram trade, the Pelicans would have to find some middle ground with their forward on an extension,” Guillroy wrote.

While that outcome is possible, it is also possible that the Pelicans resign themselves to moving off of Ingram for future draft assets and take a flier on an under-the-radar center as a bridge to a long-term answer. In the latter case, the Lakers would have a real chance of securing Ingram if truly motivated.

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