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2020 NBA Free Agency: Brandon Ingram names New Orleans Pelicans as top choice

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Expectations should remain as high as ever that he’ll continue to call Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball teammates.

Washington Wizards v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Expect for rumors to swirl around Brandon Ingram’s potential for departure from New Orleans between now and the upcoming free agency period, but maintain all the confidence in the world of David Griffin inking him to a new deal this coming fall.

In this morning’s shootaround, Ingram was asked his opinion on the city and the Pelicans organization as a whole, specifically with his long-term outlook in mind. His reply did include some leeway for other destinations.

“Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of New Orleans,” Ingram said. “I’ve been around a lot of good people in the organization, and definitely will be a top choice for me to come back. Of course, it’s going to be a long thought process in the offseason and figuring out where I want to be, but this is definitely a special place with a lot of really, really good people and a lot of genuine people, so I’m enjoying where I am at.”

Ingram and his family have always maintained a special affection for New Orleans, but what’s more interesting to me was how he handled his very next question from media. He discussed the need for the team to display greater consistency next season and he included a number of “we” references.

“I think what we just went through will make us consistent. Just the experience with each other every single day. Going through mood swings, going through ups and downs every day, and sometimes winning games [and] sometimes losing games just because of the experience and us being young. I think we’ll all take it into next year, and we’ll be alright. We’ll be fine. I think we’ll have no problem trying to make the playoffs or whatever it is. We’ll be fine.”

Folks, I know that speculation is fun and few things in life are a certainty, but there’s nothing to see here.

Ingram mentioned one year ago that he would “absolutely not” sign an extension contract unless it was for the maximum last summer.

“I understood everything that went on with the contract and everything, because they wanted to know if I was going to be extremely healthy, if something was going to come back. Once I figured out the reason why they didn’t want to do the extension, we didn’t go any further with it. I knew it was not going to be the number we wanted.”

Following a season in which he posted career-highs across the board (23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.4 threes) plus made his first All-Star appearance and is a finalist for the 2020 Most Improved Player Award, Ingram showed the strides and health necessary to put himself into the realistic position of receiving a max offer.

And for the likely large forgetful crowd, we should expect David Griffin to try and meet Ingram’s demands, as the executive vice president of basketball operations indicated earlier this season of wanting to keep the 22-year-old forward in New Orleans for a long time.

Brandon Ingram, 22, is a restricted free agent next summer, but Griffin told The Undefeated that the Pelicans have every intention of keeping him long term.

Remember, Griff’s been a fan of Ingram’s for longer than he’s sat atop the basketball ladder in New Orleans.

Yes, Ingram is not yet the complete player that we all desperately want to see — he made mention of it in today’s shootaround, wanting to improve defensively and become a two-way player, but player faults have previously not prevented front offices from offering maximum contracts to potential stars/superstars.

Despite the areas of his game that need improvement, Ingram did post an incredibly rare yet impressive array of stats that portend greatness.

Griffin and the rest of the front office watched every game on the schedule so have some trust in the fact that they will simply not let one of the game’s best young talents walk away. While the Orlando restart is likely to not do many favors, the young core of Ingram, Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball still remains one of the most enticing 25-and-under trios.

Like I said, there’s nothing to see here. Ingram’s only smartly reminding everyone of his leverage, just in case he needs to wield some of it at the bargaining table next October.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.