"I didn't look at it as if I had a choice."
With the NBA season halted amidst a career year, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram said it was never a question for him whether or not he would be part of the New Orleans contingent in the league's "bubble" in Orlando when the season gets restarted.
"I think my teammates knew that I didn't want to sit or anything," Ingram said before referencing the blood-clot issue that halted his final season in Los Angeles prematurely, an issue he put behind him in the offseason before making his New Orleans debut.
"I just want to play basketball at the end of the day. I think, like I always go back to, me being hurt made me want to come out and play basketball all the time, so when I got the chance and when I get the chance to do it, I'm just going to go do it and be full-force at it. I know that my teammates know that I'm there 100%, 110%, so I’ve got to be there. It wasn't a question."
Ingram said he believes the Pelicans have a big opportunity for growth.
"This is a time where we come together even more," Ingram said. "We get to figure out more about each other. We get to figure out our strengths and weaknesses on the basketball floor and what we can attack each night. I think whoever goes, we'll grow as a team even more during this isolation."
The Pelicans All-Star also said he's not concerned about hindering his value heading into contract negotiations at season's end.
"I think that's more for after the season," Ingram said. "I think this season is obviously focused on being with my teammates and just playing basketball, being how last year went when I couldn't finish the season last year, so this year was just about me going out there and showing where I belong and showing that I can excel in this new space. I think playing in this will - it could help me out."
In the end, Ingram believes the outlook is positive for the collection of talent that's been assembled in the Big Easy.
"We're very excited," Ingram said. "I think we were building some momentum to getting better and better each and every day. Of course, we haven't reached where we want to go, and we're a long ways away, but I think we're getting steps closer and closer to where we want to be at. I think at this point we’ve got a chance to have some rest. I know that's good for the old guys, but for some of the young guys, we should be very fresh and just ready to run and play our games."
The Pelicans open the NBA's restart on July 30 against the Utah Jazz.