Brandon Ingram expected to become available for trade as wing market comes into focus

With the 2024 NBA Draft over, the league’s transaction market is expected to continue with trade activity over the weekend, league sources told Yahoo Sports, as various clubs look to add players for next season or reshuffle salary in advance of the 2024-25 business year beginning when free agency opens on 6 p.m. ET Sunday.

Thursday’s second round of the draft already saw the Denver Nuggets, for example, send three future second-round picks to Charlotte, sources said, in order to move Reggie Jackson’s $5.2 million salary. That’s a move that should open necessary flexibility for Denver as NBA personnel prepare for Nuggets swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to exit via free agency after the veteran declined his $15.4 million player option Thursday.

There are several other important player option and contract guarantee decisions looming over the next 48 hours, perhaps none more important than Paul George’s $48.7 million option to remain with the Clippers — which he could feasibly decline and join Caldwell-Pope on the open market. Another wing player who should factor in that mix of perimeter talents, Brandon Ingram, is expected to become available for trade in New Orleans, league sources told Yahoo Sports, should Ingram’s representation and the Pelicans’ front office come short of finding a long-term extension agreement before Ingram enters the final year of his current contract in 2024-25.

David Griffin told reporters following Wednesday night’s first round the Pelicans hope to retain Ingram and that Ingram wants to remain with New Orleans. The Pelicans, though, have never paid into the luxury tax, and New Orleans will likely have to draw a line at some threshold below Ingram’s maximum potential salary.

Ingram has been listed among Philadelphia’s targets this offseason, sources said, somewhere below George, although it’s not exactly clear where Ingram ranks among the Sixers’ proverbial group of wing targets to slot between Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. In the event George spurns Philadelphia, the Sixers could easily acquire Ingram into their $60-plus million in cap space, but could Philly’s three first-round picks prove enough for Ingram?

Cleveland continues to be mentioned by league personnel as a possible alternative for Ingram, but there’s no straightforward path to making such a deal work with the Cavaliers. While Cleveland holds interest in Ingram and values his skillset, sources said, Cavs personnel have maintained a reluctance to breaking up the team’s core of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, as NBA figures continue preparing for Mitchell to sign a lucrative extension. Without parting with Allen, who’s long been on New Orleans’ radar, it’s difficult to find a path to bring Ingram to Northeast Ohio. (Another center the Pelicans had been eyeing, Nets big man Nic Claxton, is now committed to four more years at $100 million in Brooklyn.) Cleveland doesn’t want to part with Garland, either, sources said, even if his representation at Klutch Sports attempts to push his own trade.

Atlanta is another popular landing spot league figures have pointed to for Ingram, but there have been no substantive talks between the Hawks and Pelicans, sources said, since the two teams discussed trade scenarios regarding Dejounte Murray before February’s trade deadline. Atlanta had been laser focused on figuring out its No. 1 pick in this week’s draft, and then the Hawks were determined to trade into the second round, sources said, as Atlanta ultimately came away with Nikola Đurišić. The Hawks are certainly expected to now gauge trade possibilities for Murray, All-Star guard Trae Young, Clint Capela and the rest of their rostered players who aren’t named Jalen Johnson and Zaccharie Risacher, sources said. Young does have the Pelicans in mind of preferred possible next teams, league sources told Yahoo Sports, in addition to the Spurs and Lakers, but Young’s fit has never made much sense for a New Orleans situation that currently features C.J. McCollum in its backcourt.

One team to monitor for Ingram would be Sacramento. The Kings have been weighing paths to acquire various wings, sources said, from Kyle Kuzma to Zach LaVine, and Ingram could be another option for Sacramento to explore, sources said. The Kings have veteran wings Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter, whom Sacramento placed on the trade market last deadline, sources said, and their two salaries combine for almost a perfect match to meet Ingram’s $36 million expiring number for 2024-25.

The Jazz could have over $40 million in cap space, plus veteran salaries such as John Collins and Jordan Clarkson and a stash of future draft capital, to foreseeably add any player on the market, from Ingram to George. That’s why Utah poked its way into the Mikal Bridges sweepstakes, sources said, before the Nets ultimately sent their 27-year-old wing to New York.

The Jazz find themselves in a similar position to Brooklyn prior to relinquishing Bridges: a non-contending roster with a 27-year-old centerpiece on a value contract in whom the entire league held interest. In Utah, that would be Lauri Markkanen, who’s already been named an All-Star unlike Bridges and will enter the last year of his contract should he not find an extension with Utah in the coming days and weeks. At this point, the Jazz are expected to prioritize finding an extension agreement with Markkanen, sources said, and Utah officials made that clear during their approach for Bridges. That won’t stop rival teams from calling and registering their interest in Markkanen, with the hope that Utah could decide to punt like Brooklyn — if the Jazz aren’t able to secure someone close to a second star for Markkanen.

Utah is clearly looking to be opportunistic. There were tangible discussions between the Jazz and Hawks, sources said, about Murray at the trade deadline. What big moves may ultimately come from Utah this summer, beyond handling Markkanen’s situation, could present one of the more interesting circumstances of the NBA offseason.

The Nets, meanwhile, are considered open for business on veterans such as Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith, sources said, even after re-signing Claxton.

The Bucks are still being mentioned by league personnel as a team to watch on the trade market. Milwaukee was able to land a potential center of the future in Tyler Smith with the No. 33 pick in Thursday’s second round. Smith could perhaps help replace Brook Lopez as soon as this season, if Milwaukee indeed parts ways with their veteran center who’s about to enter the final year of his contract. Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis’ names continued to be mentioned as trade candidates as well, sources said.

The Warriors have another fascinating math problem to figure out. Golden State reportedly agreed to increase Chris Paul’s amount of guaranteed money for the 2024-25 season in order to push back the team’s defacto deadline to retain his $30 million salary for the upcoming year. Golden State already guaranteed Kevon Looney’s $8 million after Gary Payton II exercised his $9.1 million player option. All three of those players, plus swingman Andrew Wiggins, are considered potential outgoing contracts for the Warriors, as Golden State attempts to reshape a contending roster around Stephen Curry.