NBA Rumors: Bringing Brandon Ingram to the Cleveland Cavaliers makes too much sense

The Cleveland Cavaliers are one piece away from contention, and Brandon Ingram might be the answer.
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the business of winning, and they have made it clear they want to do more of it.

With an improved run in the NBA Playoffs this year, the Cavaliers will enter the NBA offseason (whenever their season concludes) as buyers. As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported, Cavaliers superstar Donovan Mitchell views this team as a legitimate contender in the league, adding fuel to the team's belief that Mitchell will agree to a max extension this summer. If Mitchell commits long-term, the Cavaliers must be full-steam ahead in moves to upgrade the roster around Spida and Evan Mobley as their two pillars moving forward.

As teams begin an early offseason, the NBA's trade rumor mill has begun spinning, and one name has emerged as the top name on the market. After being swept in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New Orleans Pelicans will reportedly be active in exploring the trade market for former All-Star Brandon Ingram. At 26 years old, Ingram has yet to enter his prime and has shown an ideal skillset for any team ready to enter contender status.

While the Cavaliers' season is still underway, they are far from a true Finals threat given their inconsistent shooting and lack of star power outside of Donovan. Cleveland's Evan Mobley has emerged in these playoffs as the second-best force on the team, and Darius Garland has slowly returned to form with better confidence and scoring after an injury-riddled regular season. Despite the Cavaliers' core impacting winning, their depth and undersized forward rotation have led to numerous underwhelming nights in the postseason.

In NBA insider Marc Stein's latest edition in his Substack "The Stein Line", the Cavaliers have already been named as one of the potential trade suitors for Ingram. The discussion surrounding the Cavaliers and Pelicans making a trade this summer is not just words, though. The Pelicans have had a years-long interest in one of Cleveland's best players, and this year might be the perfect storm for both sides to strike a deal.

A Cavaliers-Pelicans trade is too perfect this summer not to happen

Evan Mobley's sudden growth comes in the wake of Jarrett Allen's prolonged absence with a concerning rib injury. If Mobley's best position is at center, then the Cavaliers must come to terms with a divorce between the two frontcourt powerhouses. For the past few years, New Orleans has shown a vested interest in the Cavaliers' big man Jarrett Allen, but the Cavs have not been willing to deal the talented five. After being eliminated in the first round, the Pelicans were again reported to want Allen, and the Cavaliers may finally be ready to talk with Mobley's recent surge.

Many of the Cavaliers' deficiencies can also be answered with Brandon Ingram on the roster. Ingram adds a dynamic secondary option alongside Mitchell, instantly elevating Cleveland's offense. Despite a poor showing in the playoffs, Ingram has built a track record of excellence in the postseason since joining the Pelicans, even earning an All-Star selection in the 2019-2020 season alongside the Most Improved Player award. Over his career, Ingram has averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 36.2 percent from three. The 26-year-old forward is imperfect, but that may be in Cleveland's favor in this trade.

While Jarrett Allen's trade value has skyrocketed this season after a 17-game stretch of consecutive double-doubles and a career year in offensive production, Ingram's stock has dipped with his underwhelming totals. In a press conference following elimination, Ingram insisted he is motivated by having his worst year in a Pelicans uniform after playing for Team USA this past summer. If the Cavaliers are ready to invest all the way into Mitchell and Mobley, the best time to strike is this offseason with Ingram on the market and the Pelicans' interest in Allen.

With Allen's $20 million salary, the Cavaliers would have to include more to match Ingram's expiring $36 million contract. Additionally, Cleveland would have to feel confident enough to offer Ingram a massive long-term extension. Still, the framework for an Allen-Ingram swap is not hard to create, and it would be a massive move to prove to Mitchell that the Cavs are going to do everything they can to win with him.

Though the Cavaliers will not be the only team calling New Orleans about Ingram, they might have the best path to acquiring him if they are willing to offer Allen. The Cavs have stayed quiet at the two past trade deadlines, but their past years have shown a fiery willingness to make major changes to the lineup when they emerge. One year after the Cavaliers added Lauri Markkanen, they flipped him in the Mitchell deal. When Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman recognizes a path to upgrade the team, he rarely hesitates to make it. This offseason, Brandon Ingram is the next obvious chance to evolve the team and take the leap into true contention.

While the Cleveland Cavaliers would have to suffer a hard goodbye with Jarrett Allen, the future success with Garland, Mitchell, Ingram and Mobley together is too good to ignore. The Pelicans want Allen, and the Cavs need to make a move to build around Mitchell again. The future is impossible to know, but the writing seems to be on the wall for the Cavaliers to bring Brandon Ingram to the Wine and Gold.

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