Should the Charlotte Hornets explore a trade for Brandon Ingram?

The New Orleans Pelicans appear ready to move Brandon Ingram this offseason. Should the Hornets pursue?
Apr 29, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) looks on
Apr 29, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) looks on / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA offseason is expected to bring historic fireworks, in terms of the transaction market. With the new CBA going into effect, many teams will have to change their overall strategies on how to build a sustainable roster. This will include making very tough financial decisions, especially on star-level players with second apron implications now on the line.

One of those teams expected to hit the proverbial fork in the road this summer is the New Orleans Pelicans. Not only is New Orleans teetering on luxury tax ramifications, but two wings are eligible for extensions: Brandon Ingram and Trey Murphy III.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst appearing Friday morning on Get Up, Ingram will not be receiving his projected four-year, $208 million deal from the Pelicans. Instead, New Orleans will be focused on Murphy and pivoting to another direction.

If the Pelicans indeed decide not to offer Ingram this extension, this is where the Charlotte Hornets and other potentially interested teams enter the picture.

Last season for the Pelicans, Ingram averaged 20.8 points, 5.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds while posting a 57.8 true shooting percentage. In the postseason, Ingram shrunk to career-worst performances when guarded by Oklahoma City Thunder wing Luguentz Dort. During the Pelicans’ first round sweep, Ingram’s numbers dropped to disturbingly bad levels: 14.3 points on a 45.0 TS%.

Would the Hornets, who appear ready to attempt to break their decade-long postseason drought, make sense for a potential Ingram trade? Actually, yes, and let me further explain why.

Did you know the Hornets and Pelicans have already discussed parameters of an Ingram trade? Before the 2023 NBA Draft, multiple reports suggested Charlotte and New Orleans briefly discussed swapping the No. 2 overall pick — who would have been Scoot Henderson instead of Brandon Miller — in exchange for Ingram.

Also, the Hornets have mentioned before they view Miller now more as a shooting guard compared to a small forward. Ironically enough, Ingram can slide right into the three spot alongside LaMelo Ball and Miller creating a truly dynamic offensive trio.

Here's what the Hornets' new starting lineup would potentially look like, if re-signing Miles Bridges was also still in the cards: Ball, Miller, Ingram, Bridges, Mark Williams. That right there is a playoff-caliber unit.

Apr 29, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) passes
Apr 29, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) passes / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

What would it take for the Hornets to make a compelling offer that makes New Orleans’ front office heavily consider it? Owning all of their own future picks, plus two extra in 2027 thanks to the Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington trades at February’s deadline, Charlotte has the right ingredients in place to make a call.

Charlotte views Ball and Miller in untouchable category, but, outside of those two players, there’s not much appeal on the roster for a star-level transaction. This is where the extra draft picks come squarely into play, but mainly wherever the Hornets land in the lottery.

The Hornets can build a package for Ingram around this year’s likely top-three selection, multiple future picks down the road, and filler salary. In this scenario, Davis Bertans’ unique $16 million expiring would play a pivotal part in making this work for salary-matching purposes.

Hornets receive: Brandon Ingram

Pelicans receive: Davis Bertans, Grant Williams, Nick Richards, 2024 pick, 2026 pick (top-three protected, 2027 pick (via Dallas Mavericks or Miami Heat)

Is this really that appealing to the Pelicans, especially for a talent like Ingram? Maybe, if they value a prospect in this year’s class with star potential similarly as they evaluated Henderson in 2023.

This is just one exercise to show that now with their added flexibility and draft capital, the Hornets can now open the door a little bit as a team that can sneak into trade conversations.

Is Charlotte ready to speed up the clock of playing postseason basketball? Making an aggressive move for Ingram would accomplish exactly that, plus create a real foundation to build off for years to come.