Pelicans’ Ingram, Heat’s Adebayo sign max contract extensions

Restricted free agent Brandon Ingram has agreed to a five-year, $158 million US contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Ingram’s agents, Jeff Schwartz and Jordan Gertler of Excel Sports Management, confirmed the deal on Tuesday to The Associated Press.

Ingram is the NBA’s reigning most improved player after averaging a team-high 23.8 points in his first season with the Pelicans.

The 23-year-old Ingram, a 2016 second overall draft choice by the Los Angeles Lakers, was dealt to New Orleans during the 2019 off-season as part of a blockbuster trade that sent perennial all-star Anthony Davis to the Lakers. New Orleans also received guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, as well as multiple draft picks in that deal.

The 6-foot-7 Ingram this season developed into an effective and reliable scorer from the perimeter as well as on dribble drives. He shot a career best 39.1 per cent from 3-point range but also routinely finished above the rim in the free-flowing, up-tempo offence the Pelicans ran last season under previous coach Alvin Gentry.

Now Ingram will play for new coach Stan Van Gundy, who said shortly after his hiring that viewed Ingram and Pelicans 2019 top overall draft choice Zion Williamson “two of the most unique young guys in the entire league.”

“There’s just a lot to build around there,” Van Gundy said.

This past season represented a personal triumph for Ingram on multiple levels.

Not only did he begin to fulfil the potential he was widely believed to possess when he turned pro after starring at Duke, but he also made it through virtually an entire season after his last season with the Lakers had been cut short by a blood clot.

Ingram showed little interest in leaving New Orleans, saying, “I’m enjoying where I’m at,” when last season ended.

His decision allows him to continue to develop his game alongside Williamson and Ball.

The Pelicans this off-season also have made trades to acquire 7-foot centre Steven Adams and guard Eric Bledsoe.

WATCH | VanVleet relieved he’s staying with Raptors:

The Toronto Raptors guard who “bet on himself” told reporters during his media availability that he could finally “exhale” after signing a reported four-year, $85-million US deal with the team. 1:08

Adebayo sticking with Heat

Bam Adebayo came to the NBA with the goal of providing for his mother and changing her life.

His first contract took care of that.

And the way he sees it, his next contract sets his family up for generations.

Adebayo and the Miami Heat agreed on a five-year extension that will be worth at least $163 million, the team and Adebayo’s agent Alex Saratsis said Tuesday. The contract has not been signed and won’t be until Adebayo completes a physical, something that is likely to occur in the next few days.

It will be the richest contract in terms of total value in Heat history.

“This is an accomplishment I always wanted to get,” Adebayo said. “Just being able to reach this milestone and being able to generationally change my family’s life and also take care of the people around me, it’s a big deal to me.”

Adebayo will make $5.1 million this season, the final year of his rookie contract. From there, the extension will kick in with a starting salary of somewhere around $28.1 million for the 2021-22 season. And if he makes an All-NBA team or wins another top leaguewide honour this season, his annual salary would only rise more.

“It’s another challenge I’m willing to take on,” Adebayo said. “I’m all about helping this team win. If my individual accolades help, then I’m for sure in.”

The Heat had until Dec. 21 to agree with Adebayo on an extension this season, or else would have had to table the matter until next summer. Miami has said the team’s intention was to give Adebayo a new deal — the question was only when. By waiting until next summer, the Heat would have had more salary cap flexibility.

They’ll still have plenty of space next summer, and the Heat have a history of swinging deals even when their spending power is limited. In the summer of 2019, when Miami had no cap space, they found a way to secure Jimmy Butler — who wanted to come to the Heat, in part, because of the chance to play alongside Adebayo.

The 6-foot-10 Adebayo is coming off the best season of his career. He was an All-Star for the first time, won the skills competition at All-Star weekend, had the game-saving block of a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt in the final seconds of Miami’s Game 1 win over Boston in the Eastern Conference finals and made the NBA’s all-defensive team.

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