Why-Brandon-Ingram-will-wait-to-sign-extension-with-Pelicans | Pelicans | nola.com

Why-Brandon-Ingram-will-wait-to-sign-extension-with-Pelicans | Pelicans | nola.com

Two years remain on the five-year pact Brandon Ingram signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2020.

Ingram, who is owed $33.8 million this season and $36.0 million next season, is eligible to sign a contract extension with the Pelicans before the start of the regular season in October.

Multiple sources told The Times-Picayune that Ingram will wait until next summer before engaging in extension talks with the franchise that acquired him in the Anthony Davis trade four years ago.

Within the Pelicans organization, there is no anxiety about Ingram waiting until next summer to engage on an extension. That is because both sides understand that Ingram can significantly increase his future earning potential with a stellar 2023-24 season.

If Ingram makes an All-NBA team in the upcoming season, he will become “Supermax”-eligible. That means he could sign a five-year extension, the average annual value of which would start at 35% of the salary cap.

Jaylen Brown, who made the All-NBA second team last season, signed such a deal with the Boston Celtics in July. Brown’s extension was for five years and worth an estimated $303.7 million. It was the largest contract in NBA history.

Ingram is currently able to extend for three years for a combined total of $147 million. The full-five year Supermax extension would be worth close to twice that amount in guaranteed money.

The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement took effect in July. In it, the NBA introduced a games-played minimum for players to be eligible for end-of-season awards. In order to be named MVP, All-NBA, or Defensive Player of the Year, a player must have appeared in at least 65 of 82 regular-season games.

This wrinkle is pertinent to Ingram’s contract situation.

Ingram has not played in 65 or more games since his rookie season. He appeared in 79 games in his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers. In the six seasons since then, he has played in 59, 52, 62, 61, 55 and 45 games.

Ingram likely would have hit the 65-game threshold if two of those seasons weren’t shortened by the pandemic. However, in the other four seasons — including his most recent two — Ingram would have missed too many games to make an All-NBA team.

All of this means Ingram will be incentivized to play in as many games as possible in the upcoming season. While teammate Zion Williamson has made more headlines for his struggles to stay on the court, Ingram has also been one of the NBA’s least durable stars in the past two seasons. He missed 27 games in the 2021-22 campaign with everything from a right hip contusion to left Achilles soreness. Last season, Ingram missed 37 games, 29 of which were the result of an injury the Pelicans said was a left toe contusion.

Ingram and Williamson have played in just 93 games together since they became teammates in 2019. To take a step forward, the Pelicans need both of them on the court more often.

The last time Ingram was playing for a new contract, he rose to the occasion. Ingram had a breakout 2019-20 season, which was his first year with the Pelicans. He averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists — numbers good enough to send him to the All-Star Game in Chicago.

While Ingram’s 2022-23 campaign was injury-marred, he did have an excellent close to the season. In his final 25 games, he averaged 27.5 points on 50.7% shooting from the field and 39.3% shooting from 3, to go along with 6.5 assists.

If Ingram is able to be consistently excellent this season while remaining healthy, he could be in line for one of the biggest paydays ever in NBA history.

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