Brandon Ingram is staying in New Orleans for the long haul.
The New Orleans Pelicans might be a few years away from truly contending for a championship, but David Griffin is quietly laying a very solid foundation considering the selection of Zion Williamson and the hiring of Stan Van Gundy to replace Alvin Gentry as head coach. The big piece they needed to secure in free agency, however, is stud wing Brandon Ingram, and this front office spared no expense financially to make sure he returned to The Big Easy.
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Ingram, who was a restricted free agent, has agreed to return to New Orleans after signing a five-year, $158 million max contract.
Brandon Ingram finally lived up to his potential with the Pelicans
Ingram has put up 18.3 points per game in his final year with the Lakers, but many dismissed that uptick in production as the result of playing on a bad Lakers team after the injury to LeBron James. When he was sent to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal, Ingram emerged as a legit star and leading scorer.
Ingram shot 4.4 more threes per game in his first year as a Pelican, and his 39 percent success rate helped contribute to his increased production. Ingram set new career-highs in points (23.1), rebounds (6.1), and assists (4.2) per game and that production helped him take home the Most Improved Player of the Year award.
Zion is going to be the marquee attraction in New Orleans for the next decade, but this team needs a versatile wing that can handle the ball, attack the rim, and shoot reliable from three-point range. With Zion and Ingram, the Pelicans have a young core that can help them challenge in the West for the next few years.