Grade the Trade: Raptors wash hands of costly blunder, add Pelicans star in new pitch

The Toronto Raptors are one of the teams that make sense as a landing spot for a young Pelicans star. Could they trade for Brandon Ingram this summer?
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages
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Laying out a Brandon Ingram trade

The New Orleans Pelicans are on the hunt for an upgrade at center this offseason. They are not expected to retain starting center Jonas Valanciunas, and the oft-injured Larry Nance Jr. is not the option to start and play heavy minutes. The Pels need to find a strong rim protector to guard the backline behind Zion Williamson.

They have been linked to a few names like Jarrett Allen and Isaiah Hartenstein, but one option that would make a lot of sense is Raptors big man Jakob Poeltl. The seven-footer is an oak tree in the middle, a good lob finisher and a bone-crushing screen-setter.

He is also a player that the Raptors should be open to trading, despite the painful cost they paid to acquire him. He is older than their core and doesn't have the versatility the Raptors need to find at that position. Toronto needs the Pelicans not to realize this, but Poeltl is somewhat overrated given his inability to score through contact around the rim and difficulty defending in space.

That's why things can come together for both teams this summer. Here is what a trade could look like:

Ingram Poeltl Pels Raps

The Pelicans get their man in the middle with Jakob Poeltl, and he can start alongside Zion Williamson, Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones in a super-sized starting lineup. Chris Boucher also gives them another look at center, a player who can ostensibly shoot and will offer real shot-blocking ability. Ochai Agbaji will be on his fourth team in three years but could still develop into a long-term rotational wing.

The Toronto first-round pick for next season is a bet that things don't come together for a Raptors team that struggled mightily this year, and the 2026 pick is the one owed to Toronto from Indiana via the Pascal Siakam trade. New Orleans gets a strong starting center, a pair of bench players, and two good first-round picks. It's not a trade return that will bowl them over, but it is very possibly good enough to get the job done.

If New Orleans is on board, do the Raptors make the trade?