Although the New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly determined to retain Brandon Ingram as he continues to post career-best numbers with the team, the fact remains that he will become eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2020. With that in mind, the 22-year-old wingman was mentioned in a recent report as a potential offseason acquisition for a few struggling Eastern Conference teams, including the New York Knicks.
In an article published Saturday, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz listed the best players on each of the NBA’s 30 teams and discussed the things he believes would keep them happy, including several potential acquisitions via trade or free agency. In the entry for the New York Knicks, Swartz noted that rookie forward R.J. Barrett is the “most important” player on the Knicks, if not exactly the best at this point in his career. With other young players such as Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Kevin Knox failing to live up to expectations thus far, Ingram was described as the best possible “running mate” for Barrett, who, like the Pelicans star, entered the NBA right after a stellar freshman season at Duke University.
“[T]he Knicks should throw a max contract at New Orleans Pelicans restricted free agent Brandon Ingram,” Swartz posited. “The 22-year-old forward and Barrett could develop into a deadly offensive wing combo should the Pelicans choose not to match the elevated salary.”
“We definitely should have won this basketball game. I don't know what happened in the 3rd quarter, but if I was there in the 3rd quarter with all of the flopping and the other [stuff] that was going on, we would have won that basketball game." Brandon Ingram after loss to #Suns pic.twitter.com/fDiSHzJBcZ
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 6, 2019
In addition to the Knicks, Swartz also mentioned the Chicago Bulls as a possible destination for Ingram in the summer of 2020. The Bleacher Report writer listed him alongside DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs and Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics as a theoretical replacement if Chicago’s erstwhile starting small forward, Otto Porter Jr., opts out of the final year of his contract.
As of this writing, the Knicks are at last place in the Eastern Conference with a league-worst 4-19 record. Should Ingram move to New York next season, the potential is there for him to provide an instant boost to an offense that likewise ranks last in the NBA in terms of points per game (100.6), as shown on the team’s Basketball-Reference page.
While the prospect of Ingram signing with the Knicks — or any other rival team, for that matter — could be an intriguing one, it’s still far from certain whether he would be willing to give free agency a shot after just one season in New Orleans. Furthermore, it appears that the Pelicans have “every intention” of keeping the fourth-year forward around for the long haul, as suggested by the team’s executive vice president, David Griffin, in an interview last month with The Undefeated.