Exploring an Atlanta Hawks signing of Brandon Ingram.
The Atlanta Hawks will enter this summer with the most cap space in the league, ready to make a big splash in free agency. The problem is that this year’s class of free agents is not particularly stacked.
DeMar DeRozan, who owns a player option, is likely the biggest name on the market with all signs pointing to Anthony Davis re-upping in L.A. This, combined with 2021 looking to be a stacked year for free agents, and this July won’t be as interesting as it usually is this season.
Digging deeper, there are a few restricted free agents that the Atlanta Hawks could give an offer sheet, including the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram. The former second overall pick wouldn’t come easy, and his breakout season has earned him a max deal.
Some might say the Pelicans would be crazy not to offer Ingram max money themselves, but they also have to think about the future. They have Jrue Holiday making near-max money until 2022 and have a roster full of young — and currently cheap — talent.
Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes, Nicolo Melli and of course Zion Williamson would all become free agents in the time Ingram’s contract would cover. Add in veterans to help fill the rotation and offset the young guys and New Orleans would have to make some choices on which youngsters to keep.
With Ingram being a restricted free agent, the Pelicans will get to let him test the waters without risking him completely walking away, but I’d imagine they’ll be a handful of teams eager to offer the max.
The Hawks very well could be one, as they should be. A signing of Ingram would make a very competent core four which him, John Collins, Trae Young, and Clint Capela. Those studs, combined with solid production from youngsters Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and whomever they draft this June, would make a team ready to compete in the playoffs.
Ingram would fit well in Atlanta, and his three-level, slashing style of offense makes him a compliment not a detractor from Trae Young’s outside game or John Collins’ interior presence. He’s not an overly talented defender, which could be a turn-off for the league’s worst defending team.
Rookie wings Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter do enough on that end to hopefully offset Ingram on that end. Ingram’s scoring is legit, and a pairing with Trae would intimidate any opposing defense.
The slender forward can create his own shot both inside and out and has recently added a three-point shot to his arsenal. He took 386 three-point attempts in his three seasons with the Lakers, nearly matching that this season in his 56 games in New Orleans, making 39 percent.
Perhaps his most appealing trait is his age and the 22-year-old will have a long future in the league.
Even if the Pels do let Ingram walk, the Hawks will have to convince Ingram to sign their offer sheet rather than another team. If he does hit the open market, he might just be the best free agent available, and a fantastic fit in Atlanta.