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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

As the attention of the NBA world turns to the Summer League and the upcoming Paris Olympics, there are still a few teams caught in somewhat of a whirlpool that is free agency. In a surprising turn of events, Utah’s Lauri Markkanen has emerged as a hot prospect for teams. While the Jazz aren’t exactly willing to part with the Finnish forward, they wouldn’t hesitate to trade him for the right price. And quite a few strong suitors have emerged, with the New Orleans Pelicans also in the mix as they try to determine the market for their forward, Brandon Ingram.

However, amidst the big fish, the Pels find themselves scrambling to stay afloat. But we just might see them become aggressive. Not because they can, but because they have to. Evan Sidery of Forbes Sports tells us why. Brandon Ingram continues to seek a contract extension reaching $200+ million, per @WindhorstESPN on @ESPNCleveland. The Pelicans have been unwilling to go that number in negotiations, and there doesn’t appear to be much interest elsewhere for Ingram at that figure.

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Poll of the day

Do you think Brandon Ingram is worth the $200 million he's demanding?

Absolutely

No way

Maybe, but not that much

Only if he improves

The Pelicans cannot afford BI and his $200 million demand and give Trey Murphy III the max-scale rookie extension. The hard cap of New Orleans would prove to be challenging to afford Ingram as well. In theory, extending the 2020 Most Improved Player wouldn’t be too bad. But their disappointing playoff losses to the OKC Thunder have them re-evaluating.

And given how they aren’t exactly in a position to pull Utah in with alluring offers, the ‘Crescent City’ finds themselves in quite the dilemma.

Can the Pelicans land Lauri Markkanen in return for Brandon Ingram?

In all honesty, very slim. It is no secret that they are hoping for a trade of the Knicks-Nets caliber for the 2023 All-Star. Given their tough situation with Brandon Ingram, the Pels might end up offering more than what they had in mind. For one, they have three first-round picks in 2025 (one each via the Bucks and Lakers). They would likely have to add a few more assets if New Orleans hopes to move the needle even a little bit in their favor.

The Kings and Warriors were reportedly the most aggressive in their pursuit of the dynamic 7-footer. However, given that the ‘Salt Lake City’ had shown no signs of urgency in letting go of Markkanen, they turned to DeMar DeRozan. While Sacramento, to a large extent, remains out of the picture, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported that they could very well end up considering Lauri.

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The Dubs, for their part, haven’t retracted from their goal. As per the Warrior’s influence, Ray Almeda’s tweet, “league sources confirm Warriors are still doing in pursuit of Markkanen, BUT have entered “the waiting period of what could be a drawn-out process”.” Utah has till August 6 to make a decision. That’s nearly a whole month in front of them. But there is also a catch.

“Sources confirm that the Jazz are exploring Lauri’s trade market, and plan to renegotiate and extend him using their saved-up cap space, but if Lauri takes an extra day (Aug. 7) to sign, then he becomes ineligible to be traded for the entire 2024-2025 season.”

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Well, what do you think? Do you see a chance of Lauri Markkanen joining Zion Williamson, Trey Murphy, and Herb Jones in 2024-25? Let us know what you think.