5 Brandon Ingram trade destinations if Pelicans split up star duo

If the New Orleans Pelicans go the nuclear route, here are a few desirable landing spots for Brandon Ingram.

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans / Alika Jenner/GettyImages
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The New Orleans Pelicans enter the All-Star break 11 games above .500 and sixth place in a loaded Western Conference. On the surface, the season has been a complete success. Zion Williamson is healthy (44 of 55 possible games played) and the supporting cast is starting to gel. New Orleans is within striking distance of home-court advantage in the playoffs — what more could fans realistically ask for?

That said, one peek inside the hood reveals the potential for catastrophe. According to the latest report from The Ringer's Howard Beck, NBA front offices are anticipating a lot of player movement this offseason. Several high-profile trade candidates were floated by league execs — including Brandon Ingram or Zion Williamson.

"'New Orleans has to make a decision between Zion [Williamson] and [Brandon] Ingram,” said an Eastern Conference exec. “I think that happens this summer'"

Why the Pelicans need to "make a decision" between Zion and Ingram is unclear, but this line of thinking has been prevalent in league circles for a while. Before the season, we heard plenty of chatter about the Pelicans' dissatisfaction with Williamson's work ethic. At the end of the day, Zion is a unique star, and he requires unique concessions on the roster-building front. If the Pelicans ultimately believe Williamson is the engine that will power them into the future — and, let's be frank, he is their best player — Ingram is very much at risk of being involuntarily relocated via trade.

The contract situations are noteworthy here. Williamson is under contract through 2027-28. Ingram, on the other hand, becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025. That could pressure the Pelicans to get a deal done before he has the option to bolt in free agency.

Ingram has been excellent this season, averaging 21.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.8 assists on .490/.362/.794 splits in 33.4 minutes. Here are a few viable destinations, should Ingram become legitimately available.

5. Kings can finally land upgrade on the wing with Brandon Ingram

The Sacramento Kings have been mentioned in every trade rumor involving a quality wing for the last two seasons. Kyle Kuzma, Tobias Harris, Bojan Bogdanovic — all have been floated as Sacramento targets at one point or another. Still, Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray, and Kevin Huerter form the bedrock of the Kings' wing rotation. That's not bad at all, but the Kings' next step toward contention could be landing an All-Star wing to complement De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

Ingram's versatile skill set fits into virtually any situation on paper. He's not the best 3-point shooter, and his decrease in volume (3.9 attempts compared to his career-high of 6.2 in 2019-20) is a concern, but Ingram can still stretch the floor and operate effectively as a secondary creator. The Kings have the best passing big man outside of Denver in Sabonis, as well as a constant source of rim pressure in Fox. Ingram would be well positioned for clean catches on the perimeter and advantageous two-man actions that allow him to get downhill and locate a defense's pressure points.

Malik Monk has assumed a more significant playmaking burden this season, but the Kings' backup point guard situation leaves much to be desired. Fox carries a heavy workload and there are other avenues to creation with Sabonis and Monk, so it's not a crippling weakness. But, Ingram can create out of pick-and-rolls and operate as the de facto point guard when needed. He can lead second-unit groups when Fox and/or Sabonis hit the bench.

Sacramento can trade three first-round picks this offseason, in addition to whatever swaps and young talent are needed to hold the Pelicans' attention. Ingram won't come cheap at 26 years old, but his expiring contract will leave some buyers weary. That could be the perfect environment for Sacramento to move in and strike.