Brandon Ingram, Pelicans Agree to 5-Year, $158M Max Contract Extension

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reacts after a change of possession in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. The Bucks won 120-108. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans are keeping one of their key pieces around as they eye a competitive future in the Western Conference. 

On Tuesday, New Orleans and Brandon Ingram agreed to a maximum contract extension worth $158 million over five years, Ingram's agents Jeff Schwartz and Jordan Gertler told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

This comes after Zach Harper of The Athletic reported in January that the 23-year-old expected to receive "max money in offer sheets" as a restricted free agent following the 2019-20 campaign.

He was in line for his first major contract after he made $7.3 million in base salary in 2019-20 as one of the best bargains in the league from the Pelicans' perspective.

The Duke product entered the league in 2016 when the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the No. 2 overall pick. He spent his first three seasons in Los Angeles and flashed his potential, although he dealt with injury concerns and appeared in only 59 games in 2017-18 and 52 games in 2018-19.

When healthy, he impressed in his final season in purple and gold, averaging 18.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per night while connecting on 33 percent of his three-point attempts.

Los Angeles traded him to the Pelicans prior to the 2019-20 season as part of the package that landed Anthony Davis. It was a win-win deal considering the Lakers had a dominant big man to pair with LeBron James and chase a championship and the Pelicans had an uber-talented youngster to accelerate their rebuild.

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Ingram wasted little time establishing himself as New Orleans' top offensive option, especially when rookie Zion Williamson was sidelined with an injury, and he averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.0 steals per night in 62 games.

He also improved his outside shooting and hit 39.1 percent of his triples, making him all the more difficult to guard in an offense that forced opponents to collapse on Williamson on the blocks.

It makes sense for the Pelicans to secure his immediate future given that Ingram was a first-time All-Star in his first season with the team and is still in his early 20s. The team has a formidable core to build around for years to come with Williamson, Ingram and Lonzo Ball, among others, and Ingram is a key part of it.