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June 20, 2024

NBA trade rumors: Pelicans contacted Sixers to discuss Brandon Ingram deal

Brandon Ingram, who will turn 27 in September, could give the Sixers the best combination of ready-made skill and potential longevity.

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Brandon Ingram 6.20.24 Kyle Ross/USA TODAY Sports

Could Brandon Ingram's unique scoring skills make him the true missing piece for the Sixers?

The newest buzz indicates that the Sixers have been contacted to discuss a trade involving a player many believe could put them over the top.

According to a report from Kelly Iko of The Athletic, the New Orleans Pelicans recently reached out to the Sixers to gauge the team's interest in acquiring All-Star wing and elite perimeter scorer Brandon Ingram. 

Ingram, the No. 2 selection in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers -- chosen one spot after the Sixers drafted Ben Simmons -- blossomed into one of the league's best scorers after being traded to New Orleans before his fourth NBA season as one of the centerpieces of a deal that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers.

In his five seasons with the Pelicans, Ingram has averaged 23.1 points per game, and he's done so on strong efficiency for a player shouldering such a significant offensive load, posting a 57.7 true shooting percentage during his Pelicans tenure. Ingram is nearly unstoppable as an isolation scorer, and he thrives in the mid-range area -- though he has made significant strides from beyond the arc since departing Los Angeles.

After a disappointing season for the Pelicans that resulted in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, all indications are that New Orleans' front office is prepared to shake things up in significant fashion. Dealing Ingram would be the easiest path to do so -- Zion Williamson is not going anywhere, and with the 2024-25 season being the last year on Ingram's current contract, it might be wise for the Pelicans to move Ingram now if they are believe that signing Ingram to a long-term deal is either not realistic or unwise.

Of all of the rumored targets for the Sixers in their well-documented pursuit of a third star to place alongside their All-Star duo of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, Ingram has the most prime years left. 2024-25 will be his age-27 season; Ingram was drafted as a teenager and has accumulated a track record strong beyond his years.

Ingram's scoring portfolio and relative youth are points in his favor; his schematic fit alongside Embiid and Maxey is not. Ingram prefers to inhabit many of the same spaces on the floor where Embiid often resides, and in today's day and age, building around two mid-range specialists is not necessarily a recipe for success. Meanwhile, Maxey is known for his incredible burst and tendency to play at the fastest pace possible, whereas Ingram is more of a methodical scorer. Ingram's tendency to slow things down could present the Sixers similar issues to the ones that arose during the tenure of Tobias Harris -- though Ingram is a far better player than Harris.

Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey's penchant for adding high-volume three-point shooters is no secret. For a perimeter-oriented ball-handler, Ingram's three-point volume is not nearly as high as what one would expect from a potential Morey target. But there is no perfect option for the Sixers this summer, so the team's front office may be required to compromise some of their idealistic hopes as far as what their third star looks like.

For all of his flaws, Ingram has become a true go-to scorer, and that is not always an easy archetype of player to acquire. It will be fascinating to see not just what the Sixers' genuine level of interest in him is, but what sort of trade compensation the Pelicans would be able to command in return for his expiring contract.

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