It’s the math: 24 for 34.
It’s the core reason the New Orleans Pelicans are not jumping into the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, despite having a combination of picks and players that would interest Brooklyn. Durant is 34, and while he is an MVP-level player with a higher ceiling, Brandon Ingram is 24 (he turns 25 in a couple of weeks). The Pelicans will stick with their young core. Christian Clarke of the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote about the Pelicans not putting all their chips in with the Nets to make a deal.
If Durant gets moved, the New Orleans Pelicans could be players in the sweepstakes, but that would likely require them to surrender Brandon Ingram. League sources say the Pelicans are unwilling to do so.
Ingram is nine years younger than Durant, and in terms of annual average value, he costs approximately $15 million less.
There are two other critical factors at play here for the Pelicans.
First, even if New Orleans traded for Durant, how long could it keep him? While one could make the case that this is the best on-court fit of the Durant suitors — KD next to Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum, with a team of quality role players around them — does he want to be there? Brooklyn is a big market, big money franchise that bent over backward and did everything he asked — signing a past-his-prime DeAndre Jordan to a $40 million contract, firing Kenny Atkinson as coach because he wanted to play future All-Star Jarrett Allen over Jordan, giving Durant a voice in roster and coaching moves — yet KD still asked out. What chance does New Orleans have of keeping him?
Second, and more importantly, the Pelicans want to see what they have now. From Clarke:
Since Ingram and Zion Williamson were paired in 2019, they have played in 81 games together. Fifty-nine of those games came during the 2020-21 season, which was former coach Stan Van Gundy’s ill-fated stint in charge. Ingram and Williamson are cornerstone pieces. The Pelicans want to see how they jell.
New Orleans could be a League Pass favorite this year, one of the most entertaining and interesting teams to watch. There’s incredible potential, but also a myriad of questions to answer.
Just know the Pelicans will be answering those without Durant.
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Another report Pelicans unwilling to put Ingram in trade for Durant originally appeared on NBCSports.com