James Ennis

Magic Notes: Offense, Augustin, Ennis

After finishing last season on a 22-9 run to nab the seventh seed in the East, the Magic entered the 2019/20 season looking to build on that second-half success and take another step forward. But so far, injuries and struggles on the offensive end have held the club back.

Orlando’s 105.5 offensive rating is easily the worst mark of any playoff team, ranking 26th overall in the NBA. However, asked by Josh Robbins of The Athletic if the Magic will prioritize acquiring offensive-minded players going forward, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman suggested it isn’t quite that simple.

“I think we’ve already done that. I just think that they’re young,” Weltman said.Jonathan Isaac is going to be a good offensive player. Mo Bamba’s going to be a good offensive player. Chuma Okeke is going to be a good offensive player. We’re trying to get two-way players. The trick is to not get guys who are just good offensive players. So I don’t think we look at it like, ‘This year we draft an offensive player.’ We try to draft good basketball players.”

Although the Magic had an opportunity to add reinforcements at the trade deadline last week, they ended up only making one minor move, bringing in James Ennis in exchange for a late-second round pick. Weltman told Robbins that it’s hard to say for sure how close he got to making additional moves.

“I always say you’d have to ask the other teams,” he said. “I can tell you that we had a few connections that we made with teams and talks that got seemingly substantial. But at the end of the day, this is a poker game, and when the hand gets folded, the other team doesn’t show you its cards. So I really don’t know.”

Here’s more out of Orlando:

  • Injured point guard D.J. Augustin seems to be on track to return to the Magic’s rotation shortly after the All-Star break, tweets Robbins. Augustin, who has primarily come off the bench this season, has been on the shelf with a knee injury since January 13.
  • Newly-acquired swingman James Ennis, who waived his no-trade clause to join the Magic last week, says he did so because he wanted a chance at an increased role, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. “I waived it because it was time for me be selfish,” Ennis said. “I was unselfish this (past) summer by giving up more money to go back to Philly. And when I stopped playing in Philly and I saw a good opportunity to come here due to the injuries. But, I’m glad that I’m here now.” After averaging just 7.2 minutes per game in his last seven contests with Philadelphia, Ennis logged 16 minutes in his first game with the Magic on Monday.
  • After Orlando’s City Council approved a land sale to the Magic this week, the team is moving forward with plans to build a new practice facility that will open for the 2021/22 season, Robbins writes at The Athletic. The Magic currently practice at the Amway Center, but the team’s new facility will be a separate building that includes a community health center and offices for the basketball operations staff.

Southeast Notes: Young, Ennis, Clifford, Curry

The Hawks brought in a major acquisition ahead of last Thursday’s trade deadline, trading for center Clint Capela in a four-team deal that featured 12 different players.

General manager Travis Schlenk also traded Jabari Parker and Alex Len to Sacramento in exchange for Dewayne Dedmon and a pair of second round-picks, later acquiring Skal Labissiere and cash from Portland for a 2024 second-round pick.

The deals received high praise from observers around the league, none more important than one figure in particular: All-Star point guard Trae Young.

“It’s hard to tell because we haven’t played with each other,” Young said when asked how good this current group of players could be, as relayed by Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “I think once we play with each other well really be able to feel if it’s going good. Everyone wants instant gratification and instantly knowing what’s going to happen and what we should expect, but we really don’t know until we play with each other. I feel like it’s going to be great for us but I don’t really know until we play together.

“I definitely feel like a lot of teams made some good moves, but we are up there with making some of the biggest moves. We got some really good guys and I definitely think we are one of the winners of the trade deadline.”

Atlanta now sports a promising core of Young, Capela, Kevin Huerter and John Collins, along with young talents such as De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. The one major question remains how far this group could go in the improving Eastern Conference.

“I think we’re right there,” Young said. “I think we’re ready to make that jump.”

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic forward James Ennis hopes to find some stability with his new team, Luis Torres of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Ennis, a proven six-year NBA veteran, saw his playing time suddenly decrease in Philadelphia and was traded to Orlando in exchange for a second-round pick last week. Ennis consulted with family members and agent Scott Nichols of Rize Management before ultimately waiving his no-trade clause and accepting the trade. “It came down to what was best for me,” Ennis said. “I gave up a lot in the summer to go [back] to Philly so it was time for me to be selfish. When I saw Orlando wanted me, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go there.’ I feel like it’s a good fit.”
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford was fined $25,000 by the NBA for verbally abusing game officials, the league announced in a press release. The incident occurred at the end of the team’s loss in New York last Thursday.
  • Mavericks guard Seth Curry would welcome the opportunity to play in his hometown in Charlotte with the Hornets at some point in his career, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. “I’d love to,” Curry said following the team’s win against Charlotte on Saturday. “If the opportunity came about, I would embrace it.” Curry’s contract with Dallas runs through 2023, so he’s expected to remain with the Mavs for the foreseeable future.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Davis Bertans, Wizards, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.5MM deal in 2018
The fact that the Wizards set such a high price on the unrestricted free agent, reportedly asking for two first-rounders and possibly more, shows how much Bertans is valued by the organization and other clubs. He’s averaging 15 PPG, albeit for one of the league’s worst teams, but his 3-point shooting is craved around the league. Big guys who can shoot 42.9% from deep, as Bertans has the past two seasons, command a high price tag. Washington desperately wants to re-sign Bertans and hopes the loyalty it showed will have an impact this summer. But the Wizards will have plenty of competition for his services.

Treveon Graham, Hawks, 26, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.16MM deal in 2018
Graham was tossed into the deal that sent Allen Crabbe to the Timberwolves last month. Perhaps the only thing surprising about Graham is that he wasn’t thrown into another trade by the very active Atlanta front office. He received steady playing time with Minnesota (20.1 MPG), including 20 starts, but his impact on the Hawks has been minimal. He’s scored a total of 12 points in nine appearances. Graham just isn’t enough of an offensive threat and defenses don’t have to respect him on the perimeter. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and he’ll be looking at minimum deals at best.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets, 26, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $52MM deal in 2016
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.. Yes, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft is still in the league. In fact, he’s just 26 years old. Injuries sidetracked MKG’s career but a bigger issue is his lack of an offensive game. Ben Simmons can get a max contract without a 3-point shot because of his wondrous playmaking skills and defensive versatility. A 6’6” forward without an outside shot is a dinosaur into today’s NBA. MKG has appeared in just 12 games this season and hasn’t seen the floor since late December. Charlotte’s front office is just counting the days to get his contract off its books.

Jae Crowder, Heat, 29, SF (Up) – Signed to five-year, $35MM deal in 2015
Crowder was quietly enjoying one of his best seasons with the Grizzlies before getting dealt to Miami just before the deadline. He started regularly for Memphis despite modest offensive numbers (9.9 PPG on 36.8% shooting), finding other ways to contribute. He was averaging career highs in rebounding (6.2 RPG) and assists (2.8 APG) along with playing his usual solid defense. It will be interesting to see how coach Erik Spoelstra incorporates Crowder into the rotation but the impending unrestricted free agent will get an opportunity to show his value on a now serious Eastern Conference contender.

James Ennis, Magic, 29, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4MM deal in 2019
Ennis’ playing time had diminished before the Sixers, who acquired perimeter shooters from the Warriors, found a new home for the journeyman forward. The Magic were willing to give up a second-round pick in order to secure Ennis’ services. Orlando president Jeff Weltman said Ennis will add “shooting, athleticism, and toughness” to the team, so from all indications he’ll jump right into the rotation. Ennis is an adequate perimeter shooter and a factor in the open floor. Ennis holds a $2.13MM player option on his contract next season and could choose to opt out with a strong finish.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Trade James Ennis To Magic

4:03pm: The trade is now official, the Magic announced in a press release. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement that Ennis will add “shooting, athleticism, and toughness” to the team.

Orlando also confirmed the release of Amile Jefferson, which we noted in a separate story.

2:00pm: The Sixers have reached an agreement to trade James Ennis to the Magic in exchange for a second-round pick, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ennis’ approval was required to complete the deal, adds Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). He has veto power over any trade because he’s on a one-year Bird restriction.

Philadelphia will receive the Lakers’ 2020 second-rounder in return, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). It would be 59th overall if L.A. remains in its current position in our Reverse Standings.

Because Orlando has a full roster, an opening must be created before the deal can be finalized. The most likely move is an early termination for Gary Clark‘s second 10-day contract, which expires tomorrow night.

The Sixers needed to clear two players off their roster after agreeing to a deal last night with the Warriors that will bring Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III  in exchange for three second-round picks.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in 2018
VanVleet was a key reserve in the Raptors’ run to the championship. With Danny Green‘s departure, he’s now a backcourt starter alongside Kyle Lowry. Green was mainly a floor spacer, while VanVleet has provided the added element of playmaking to help make up for the enormous loss of Kawhi Leonard. He’s averaging a team-high 7.2 assists through the first five games while getting the line more often and delivering his usual excellent shooting from deep. An unrestricted free agent next summer, VanVleet will attract plenty of attention in a weak FA market.

James Ennis, Sixers, 29, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4MM deal in 2019
Ennis has bounced around the league, wearing six different uniforms since his rookie year in 2014/15. He saw action in 18 regular-season and 11 postseason games with Philadelphia after being acquired from the Rockets in a trade deadline swap. Thus far this season, Ennis has retained a rotation spot and helped around the boards (5.8 RPG in 14.0 MPG). Ennis has a $2.13MM player option after the season — if can remain a contributor on a contender, perhaps he’ll feel comfortable opting out and testing the market for additional security.

Marcus Morris, Knicks, 30, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019
Morris caused a lot of consternation in the Spurs’ organization by reneging on a two-year verbal agreement and then signing a one-year deal with New York, giving him more money this season and the freedom to explore the market again next year. In his first five games with the Knicks, Morris is the one doing the squawking. He’s already picked up a league-high three technicals. He’s also off to a slow shooting start (35%). It’s hard to see Morris enhancing his value with New York but his expiring contract could be attractive to a contender looking for a frontcourt player.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019
Theis’ $5MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed until July 3rd and there will a number of factors playing into the Celtics’ decision next summer, especially whether Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter opt in. What Theis can control is being productive when he gets opportunities and making it a tougher decision for the front office. Theis needs to have more nights like he did Wednesday, when coach Brad Stevens used him for 28 minutes and he produced 11 points and nine rebounds. The 6’8” Theis will see quite a bit of time at the ‘five’ spot in downsized lineups.

Wilson Chandler, Nets, 32, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Chandler quietly latched on with the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract while they inked deals with high-profile free agents Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Chandler’s chances of carving out a role in coach Kenny Atkinson‘s rotation was squashed by a 25-game league suspension for a failed PED test. It’s uncertain what Brooklyn plans are for Chandler once he becomes eligible on December 15. However, the suspension won’t make it any easier for his agent to find his client work next summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Lillard, Role Players, Seattle, Lawson

During a recent appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast (h/t to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), Trail Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard, who recently signed a super-max extension to stay in Portland through 2025, explains his thoughts as to why more players don’t do the same.

“I think people walk away from it because of the media… the outside influence, people talking about their legacy… so (the players) say, ‘It’s not about the money. I want to win the championship. And I want to do this.”

“But I don’t think just because you decide to stay and not pass up on that money, that don’t mean you ain’t trying to win it. When you’re 42 years old and your career [is] over, and you ain’t won it, anyway, and you walked away from 60 million dollars more than what you got, they ain’t even going to be talking about you then. The joke is going to be on you.”

Lillard’s point is an interesting one, and it begs the question as to how many players eligible for a super-max turned it down for this reason. Even though he won a championship in Toronto, Kawhi Leonard almost certainly did not. But, it’s conceivable Anthony Davis felt pressure to leave the Pelicans because outside influences convinced him he couldn’t win a title in New Orleans and that outcome would be bad for his legacy.

We have more content from around the basketball world, below:

  • Quinn Davis of Basketball Insiders takes a look at three role players who could make an impact on a team with championship aspirations next season: Sixers forward James Ennis, Clippers forward Maurice Harkless, and Jazz big man Ed Davis.
  • Newly inducted Hall-of-Famer, big man Jack Sikma, said during his induction speech last night that it’s time for the NBA to return to Seattle, writes Anthony Olivieri of ESPN. “Speaking for all Sonics fans, it’s our great hope that the NBA will soon find a pathway to bring a franchise back to Seattle. It’s time.”
  • The Xinjang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association are considering the signing of former NBA guard Ty Lawson because Ian Clark cannot report to the team yet due to an injury, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Atlantic Notes: PEDs, Ennis, Knicks

The NBA has revealed that Nets forward Wilson Chandler will miss the first 25 games of the regular season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug called Ipamorelin, as we detailed on Thursday.

In the wake of that suspension, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) took a deep dive into the league’s stance on PEDs and noted that Chandler becomes just the second player to serve such a suspension under the league’s latest set of governing rules.

When the NBA and NBPA debuted their new collective bargaining agreement ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, it came with stricter rules regarding steroids and PEDs. Only Jodie Meeks had been tagged with a suspension since the new document went live.

According to the CBA, the default punishment for a first offense is 25 games. Meeks split his 25 games between the 2018 postseason and the first 19 games of the 2018/19 regular season. Prior to the new CBA, players like Joakim Noah and Hedo Turkoglu faced varying punishments for PED use.

The Nets will now have several options for how they want to proceed. As of November 2, after the team plays its fifth game of Chandler’s suspension, they can move him to the Suspended List and free up a roster spot. Alternatively the club could waive a player altogether – they’ve got 15 guaranteed contracts – and look for a replacement… like *cough* Carmelo Anthony *clears throat*.

There’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Although he’s a member of the Celtics now, forward Gordon Hayward is a product of Indiana and is on the short list of humans most capable of understanding the thought process behind Andrew Luck’s decision to retire from the NFL. “It sucks; you feel isolated,” Hayward, no stranger to extensive rehabilitation, told A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports. “It feels like a job because you’re not getting to do the fun parts of it. And you always have those [thoughts], ‘What if I’m not the same player?’ You have to bottle that and just focus on the present … I understand exactly where [Luck is] coming from.
  • He signed a two-year, $4.1MM deal to remain with the Sixers, but James Ennis had other, more lucrative offers on the table in free agency. Ennis recently told Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he chose to stay with the team that acquired him mid-season last year because he’d like to remain in Philly long-term. Hoops Rumors’ own J.D. Shaw connected with Ennis in June and the veteran wing spoke highly of the support the 76ers give their players.
  • Do the Knicks have a plan? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes that the organization has been relatively silent after an interesting – and at times puzzling – offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Burke, O’Quinn, Smart, Fizdale

Despite the loss of J.J. Redick, the Sixers have plenty of perimeter shooters on their current roster, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic details. Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Mike Scott, Al Horford, James Ennis, Trey Burke and Raul Neto loom as long-range threats but mainly in catch-and-shoot situations. That means Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons need to create and open up space for their perimeter players.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Point guards Trey Burke and Raul Neto could be useful members of the Sixers’ rotation but big man Kyle O’Quinn will have regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Knicks to make a meaningful contribution, Mike O’Connor of The Athletic writes. O’Connor breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of the incoming reserve trio and how they’ll fit in.
  • Marcus Smart admits the Celtics were a dysfunctional team last season, he said on ESPN’s The Jump this week. Many players were uncomfortable with their roles, according to Smart. “It’s hard for anybody to have to look themselves in mirror and sacrifice something,” Smart said.
  • The fact that the Knicks didn’t re-sign any of their nine free agents reflects poorly on coach David Fizdale, the New York Post’s Marc Berman opines. The teams sold player development over the team’s win-loss record last season, yet didn’t consider any of those players worthy of another contract, Berman notes.

Sixers Re-Sign James Ennis To Two-Year Deal

JULY 12: Ennis, who expressed his confidence in the Sixers’ 2019/20 outlook earlier this week, has now officially signed his new deal with the team, per a press release.

“We are excited to welcome James back to the 76ers,” GM Elton Brand said in a statement. “James had opportunities elsewhere, but he is determined to win here in Philadelphia. That’s the type of competitor he is, and it shows how much he cares about our fans and team. His heart, hustle and playmaking were integral to our success last season and we’re thrilled to have him back.”

JULY 2: Free agent swingman James Ennis has agreed to return to the Sixers on a two-year, $4.1MM deal, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The deal features a second-year player option, according to Charania, who adds that Ennis turned down bigger offers to stay in Philadelphia.

Ennis, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Monday, joined the 76ers in a midseason trade after beginning the 2018/19 season in Houston. In a total of 58 games for the two clubs, he averaged 6.7 PPG and 3.1 RPG on .469/.353/.716 shooting, serving as a three-and-D option.

Reports indicated that the Knicks, Lakers, and Clippers were among the teams that had interest in Ennis this week. A source told Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw that the Bulls, Spurs, and Mavericks also had interest.

However, Ennis, who told Hoops Rumors last month that he’d “love to come back” to the Sixers, will do just that — Charania suggests that the opportunity to play for a championship contender appealed to the veteran free agent.

It’s not clear whether Ennis’ deal will be a minimum-salary pact or if the Sixers will use their last bit of remaining cap room to complete the deal. A two-year deal at the minimum would be worth $4,012,890, so that seems like a strong possibility.

While Philadelphia lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick in free agency, the team has done a good job filling out its roster with both impact players and role players. Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and Ennis will be back, and will be joined by new additions like Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and Kyle O’Quinn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Ennis, Durant, Nets

When Kelly Oubre struck a deal with the Suns late on Wednesday night, he represented the last of the players on our list of 2019’s top 50 free agents to reach a contract agreement with a team. However, two of those agreements are in flux.

As we previously relayed, Reggie Bullock and the Knicks are attempting to rework a two-year, $21MM deal that fell apart due to an issue with Bullock’s physical, and Marcus Morris is re-evaluating his two-year, $19MM deal with the Spurs now that New York may have cap room again.

As of Thursday morning, there’s still mutual interest between Bullock and the Knicks in finding a new deal that works, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley notes that a source told him earlier this week that the Knicks are hopeful of landing Morris, whose veteran presence and toughness intrigues the club. Steve Popper of Newsday adds (via Twitter) that he has heard from people inside and outside the Knicks’ organization who think that Morris will end up in New York.

As we wait for resolution on those two free agents, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Atlantic…

  • After agreeing to a new deal with the Sixers as a free agent, forward James Ennis expressed major confidence in the team’s outlook for 2019/20, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “We had a good chance last year. Kawhi (Leonard) is gone. He went to the West,” Ennis said. “So we are going to walk to the Finals in the East.”
  • Kevin Durant initially “balked” at the idea of being signed-and-traded to the Nets straight up for D’Angelo Russell, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN. As Windhorst explains, Durant didn’t believe it was a fair deal, presumably because he could have signed outright with Brooklyn using the team’s cap room. The Warriors ultimately ended up including a heavily protected first-rounder in the swap not just to satisfy the Nets, but to satisfy KD, says Windhorst.
  • Sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the Nets‘ newly-added star power could increase Barclays Center revenues by about $40MM through “increased sponsorships, merchandising, and ticket sales.”