James Ennis

Western Notes: Ennis, Lakers, Suns, Little, Jazz

Free agent forward James Ennis worked out for the Lakers this week, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ennis, who was linked to Los Angeles earlier in free agency, would make sense as a depth piece on the wing for the Lakers, who only have 13 players on guaranteed contracts.

As we relayed earlier today, the Lakers figure to keep their 15th roster spot open during the regular season to keep their projected tax bill in check, but the 14th spot remains up for grabs.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • The Suns issued a press release today announcing some additions to their coaching staff, including Michael Ruffin as an assistant. Ruffin has some experience working under Monty Williams in the past, having served as an assistant on the Pelicans’ staff from 2014-20. The 2014/15 season was Williams’ last as New Orleans’ head coach.
  • Nassir Little, the 25th pick in the 2019 draft, hasn’t made a major impact for the Trail Blazers during his first two years in the NBA, but he has turned heads this offseason, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Quick says team officials are intrigued by Little and believe he can “contribute in a way that is unique.” While the 21-year-old figures to play mostly a three-and-D role, Little says new head coach Chauncey Billups also wants to see him improve his play-making skills.
  • Sarah Todd of The Deseret News examines nine questions the Jazz should answer by the end of training camp next week, including whether their star guards – Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley – are healthy and pain-free after dealing with injuries late last season.

Scotto’s Latest: Blazers, Beasley, Patterson, Ennis, More

The Trail Blazers have 13 players with guaranteed contracts on their roster and have added Dennis Smith Jr. and Marquese Chriss on non-guaranteed deals to vie for one of the team’s open roster spots. However, that competition may end up including more veterans than just Smith and Chriss.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Trail Blazers are eyeing other free agent forwards as possible training camp invitees. Michael Beasley, who played for Portland’ Summer League team, is one possibility. The club is also eyeing veteran stretch four Patrick Patterson, says Scotto.

The Blazers still only have 16 players under contract, which means there are four more spots available on their 20-man offseason roster.

As we wait to see how Portland fills those openings, here are a few more items of interest from Scotto:

  • Having previously identified the Bulls as one team interested in free agent wing James Ennis, Scotto adds a few more clubs to that list, suggesting that Ennis has also drawn interest from the Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Magic. Ennis, who has spent most of the last two seasons in Orlando, knocked down 43.3% of his three-point attempts in 2020/21.
  • Another player who has received interest from the Trail Blazers is big man Isaiah Hartenstein, according to Scotto, who says the Clippers have kicked the tires on the former Cav as well. As I detailed on Tuesday, Hartenstein is the only player who is still a free agent after declining an option earlier this summer.
  • Before he signed with Chicago, Alize Johnson generated interest from a handful of other teams, including the Clippers, Suns, and Knicks, per Scotto. If the Clippers had wanted Johnson badly enough, they could’ve claimed him off waivers using one of their trade exceptions, which wasn’t an option for Phoenix or New York.

Central Notes: Millsap, Bulls Offseason, Simmons, Ehambe

With Paul Millsap agreeing to join the Nets, the Bulls don’t have a lot of attractive free agent options to add to their frontcourt depth, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Millsap strongly considered the Bulls but they now have to shift gears. They could bid for restricted free agent Jarred Vanderbilt, take a flier on D.J. Wilson or add an international player to fortify the power forward spot. They could also sign small forward James Ennis and use him in smaller lineups, Johnson adds. Otherwise, they may have to pursue a trade.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls improved their roster with their busy offseason but it’s fair to wonder whether all of those changes made sense as a whole, Zach Harper of The Athletic opines. While they have upgraded in the backcourt and the wing spots with the additions of Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan, their frontcourt options have thinned.
  • Pursuing a trade for Ben Simmons doesn’t make sense for the Pistons, James Edwards of The Athletic contends. In a deal with the Sixers, Detroit would likely have to part with Jerami Grant and at least one of their top young players as well as draft picks, and adding Simmons’ contract would limit their flexibility to make other moves. It also wouldn’t help their issues regarding 3-point shooting, Edwards adds.
  • Moses Ehambe is grateful he got the opportunity to be an assistant with the Pacers, though he was not retained in the aftermath of Nate Bjorkgren’s departure, Scott Agness of FieldhouseFiles writes. “This is where you want to be,” Ehambe said in the comprehensive interview. “Now it’s about staying.”

Scotto’s Latest: Cavs, Bulls, J. Smith, D. Jordan, Dudley, More

There were some “intense” talks in the Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade negotiations between the Cavaliers and Bulls for several days leading up to their agreement last week, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said in his latest podcast with Yossi Gozlan.

According to Scotto, Cleveland originally wanted to include three second-round picks in their offer for Markkanen, but Chicago insisted on receiving a first-rounder, and the Cavs were able to get one from Portland for Larry Nance Jr. and reroute it to the Bulls.

Even after securing that first-round pick, the Bulls held out for a second-rounder on top of that, according to Scotto, who says some of the parties involved in those negotiations were frustrated by what they perceived to be a moving of the goal posts. Eventually though, the Cavs sent a protected second-round selection to Chicago to get the deal done.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Second-year big man Jalen Smith has been made available by the Suns, multiple sources tell Scotto. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated last month that Phoenix was gauging interest in Smith, and I speculated earlier this week that the former lottery pick could be in play if the Suns make a trade offer for Spurs forward Thaddeus Young.
  • Scotto reports that the Nets have offered a first-round pick swap in trade talks involving center DeAndre Jordan, but haven’t found any takers. The two sides are reportedly exploring a buyout.
  • Jared Dudley told Scotto that he planned to retire if the Lakers didn’t re-sign him, since he didn’t want to play anywhere else. When L.A. chose to move on, Dudley accepted an assistant coaching job with the Mavericks.
  • The Bulls are among the teams that have shown some interest in free agent wing James Ennis, according to Scotto.
  • When he re-signed with the Knicks, Nerlens Noel wasn’t assured the starting center job, but he’ll get a chance to compete for that role and will “definitely” play meaningful minutes, says Scotto.

Central Notes: Bulls, Garza, Mobley, Rubio, Lowe

As our latest roster count notes, the Bulls only have 12 players on guaranteed contracts. Veteran free agent forwards Paul Millsap and James Ennis are some of the candidates to fill a couple of those open roster spots, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. LaMarcus AldridgeJarred Vanderbilt and Svi Mykhailiuk are three other free agents that the Bulls could c0nsider, Schaefer adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Despite a strong showing in summer league action, Pistons center Luka Garza is unlikely to get rotation minutes during his rookie campaign, Rod Beard of the Detroit News speculates. He might get more of an opportunity if Detroit, which has one too many guaranteed contracts, opts to waive Jahlil Okafor. There’s also a good chance Sekou Doumbouya will spend a chunk of time this upcoming season in the G League unless he shines in training camp, Beard writes.
  • The Cavaliers improved their talent pool this offseason in the estimation of Zach Harper of The Athletic. The addition of lottery pick Evan Mobley gives them a potential star at both ends of the floor, and the acquisition of Ricky Rubio provides much needed veteran leadership in the backcourt. However, they’re still a little thin depth-wise at the wing and forward spots, Harper notes.
  • The Cavaliers have officially added Sidney Lowe to J.B. Bickerstaff’s coaching staff, according to a team press release. The news that Lowe was leaving the Pistons’ staff to join their Central Division rival surfaced two weeks ago. “Sidney brings a wealth of coaching experience and familiarity to our staff,” Bickerstaff said. “He is a great teacher of the game and his ability to build lasting relationships across the board is integral to the growth of our overall culture here in Cleveland.”

James Ennis Eyeing Free Agency After Impressive Stint With Magic

One of many players impacted by the NBA’s shortened offseason last fall, James Ennis entered the 2020/21 campaign with one goal in mind: putting forth the best season of his seven-year career.

Ennis, who went on to average 8.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 24 minutes per contest, managed to succeed in his mission during the games he played. He made 41 appearances — missing some due to calf, hamstring, and groin injuries — and shot 47.3% from the floor, including a scorching 43.3% from deep.

With teams and players able to negotiate free-agent deals beginning on Monday at 6:00pm ET, the 31-year-old will enter the new league year as a coveted three-and-D wing.

“I’ve been in the league for a while,” Ennis told Hoops Rumors in a phone interview this week. “I’m in the league for a reason, obviously. Good vet, a good locker room guy, good teammate all-around. I just want to win. That’s my biggest thing.”

Ennis is one of a number of intriguing role-playing forwards set to reach the open market, along with teammate Otto Porter, P.J. Tucker, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gay, Doug McDermott, Trevor Ariza, and Kent Bazemore, among others.

At 6’6” and 215 pounds, Ennis plays a position of need in the modern game and can make an impact on both ends of the floor. He’s expected to receive interest from multiple playoff contenders, with the Hornets, Jazz, Lakers, BucksMavericks, and Sixers among the potential fits.

“I can guard one-through-four. I can switch, I’m versatile and I can spread the court with my shooting ability,” he explained.

Ennis’ injury woes were a blemish on an otherwise impressive campaign, but he has several healthy seasons on his résumé. Ennis appeared in 69 games during the compressed 2019/20 season and played a key role in the Sixers’ rotation the year before that, averaging 15.8 minutes per game for the team that took Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors to seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

“There were a lot of injuries for Orlando this year,” he said. “I feel like that really made the front office go toward rebuilding. They had that same team there for what, four years? 

“For me, I had an okay season. If I didn’t get injured so much due to the short offseason — it was a quick turnaround. I felt like that’s what caused my injuries. There were a lot of injuries, in general, this year. I only averaged 8.4 (points per game), but if I was healthy and played more games, I probably would’ve been at 10-to-13 (PPG) this past year.”

Following the Magic’s first-round playoff exit last August, Ennis began his shortened offseason by immediately getting to work on his jump shot for the coming year. He would work out during the daytime — including basketball or weight-lifting training, depending on the day — and make 500 threes each night.

He concentrated on the small – but important – details: holding his follow-through, keeping his balance, and practicing on a daily basis. The shooting repetitions paid off, as his 43.3% rate on three-pointers was the second-best mark of his career and his best since 2015/16.

Ennis’ future remains unclear as the Magic continue their rebuilding phase – they went 21-51 this season and traded Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier before the deadline – but he would welcome a return if the right dominoes fell, he said.

The veteran forward will enter free agency armed with a respectable 41-game sample that should make him an appealing under-the-radar target for teams in need of a wing.

“I like Orlando a lot. When I first got here, I got an opportunity — and that’s all you can ask from a coach,” said Ennis, who was dealt from the Sixers to the Magic at the 2020 deadline. “I’ve definitely enjoyed the city and I’ve made a lot of good memories with my daughter.” 

Charania’s Latest: Beal, Lakers, Hardaway Jr., Barton, Turner, Ennis, Lowry

Wizards star Bradley Beal is expected to use this weekend to continue pondering his future with the franchise, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Beal has been “on the fence” about his future with Washington at times, Charania notes. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer first reported that Beal had been pondering a trade request, adding that any call for a move would likely come before Thursday’s draft.

The 28-year-old Beal recently finished his ninth season with the team, averaging a career-high 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Here are some other notes from The Athletic’s story:

  • The Lakers are expected to express interest in Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Spencer Dinwiddie, Charania reports. A previous report from Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times indicated that the three guards have interest in joining L.A.
  • The Mavericks have prioritized re-signing veteran free agent Tim Hardaway Jr., Charania notes. Hardway is coming off a stellar campaign with Dallas, averaging 16.6 points per game on 39% shooting from three-point range.
  • Will Barton declined his $14.7MM player option with Denver earlier this month, but there’s expected to be significant interest between both sides on negotiating a new deal, according to Charania. Barton recently concluded his seventh season with the Nuggets.
  • The Pelicans and Hornets have expressed interest in Pacers center Myles Turner, Charania reports. Indiana is open to moving the 25-year-old Turner after finishing the season at just 34-38.
  • Magic free agent James Ennis is expected to garner interest from multiple postseason contenders. Ennis, a seven-year veteran, averaged 8.4 points per contest on 43% shooting from deep this past season.
  • Charania also reported a list of top suitors for Lowry in free agency, listing the Sixers, Lakers, Mavericks, Pelicans and Heat as teams likely to be in the mix for him.

Scotto’s Latest: Magic, Hartenstein, Allen, Ennis, Theis

Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast alongside Yossi Gozlan, Michael Scotto identified Nets assistant Ime Udoka and former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson as potential candidates to watch for the Magic‘s open head coaching position.

Clippers assistant Dan Craig and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham are among the other names Scotto has heard linked to the job in Orlando. If the Bucks lose their second-round series to Brooklyn, it could be the end of the road in Milwaukee not just for Mike Budenholzer, but for several members of his staff, including Ham, Scotto notes.

Here’s more from the podcast:

  • Scotto says Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein plans to turn down his player option, after hinting as much last month. Hartenstein will be eligible for restricted free agency and is a good bet to remain in Cleveland, either on a multiyear contract or on his qualifying offer, according to Scotto.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hornets and/or Mavericks could pursue Jarrett Allen, but Scotto expects the RFA center to ultimately remain with the Cavaliers, who gave up a first-round pick for him earlier this year.
  • James Ennis, who has played for seven teams since entering the NBA in 2014, will be seeking some stability as a free agent this offseason, per Scotto, who says Ennis is hoping for a deal that covers three years, or at least two. After knocking down 43.3% of his three-pointers in 2020/21, the veteran forward will be looking for a salary worth at least the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Scotto adds.
  • Scotto has heard from people around the league that free agent center Daniel Theis could command a deal worth at least the mid-level exception. Theis would like to join a winning team, but also wants the opportunity to play regularly.

Magic Notes: MCW, Ennis, Fultz, Coach Search

Veteran Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams provided helpful on-court production and off-court leadership during the first season of his two-year, $6MM deal with the club, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.

After missing the first half of the year due to a foot injury, Carter-Williams stepped in as the starting point guard on February 12 with Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony both injured for much of the season. He started in 25 of his 31 games for the club, averaging 8.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 4.2 APG.

Carter-Williams’ 2021/22 salary is guaranteed, though it remains to be seen what sort of role he’ll have with a team that has shifted into rebuilding mode.

There’s more out of Orlando:

  • Veteran Magic wing James Ennis helped supply 3-and-D contributions when healthy during a difficult 2020/21 season in Orlando, per Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Ennis is a free agent, having signed a one-year, $3.3MM contract with Orlando in the offseason after the team traded for him while he was finishing up his prior contract with the Sixers in February 2020. Various injuries (most persistently, a calf ailment) limited Ennis to just 41 total games (37 starts) with the Magic, averaging 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 APG and 0.8 BPG. He boasted a solid shooting line of .473/.433/.805. Parry notes that the Magic currently do not have a small forward signed for the 2021/22 season, and may look to the 30-year-old Ennis to fulfill that position in the immediate future.
  • Magic point guard Markelle Fultz was frustrated by yet another injury-abbreviated season, the final under his rookie-scale contract, reports Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Fultz, who underwent surgery for a torn ACL in January, signed a three-year, $50MM extension with Orlando in the 2020 offseason. He helped power the team to a 5-2 start to kick off the 2020/21 season before suffering his injury. A solid finisher and defender, Fultz has yet to develop his outside shooting. Parry notes that rookies Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton could compete for the long-term starting point guard position in the years ahead, and cautions that an exact timeline for Fultz’s anticipated return next season remains unclear. A standard 12-month ACL recovery would push Fultz’s return to January 2022.
  • The Magic’s newly-opened head coaching job should appeal to candidates eager to develop young players, writes Josh Cohen of Magic.com. The Magic have an intriguing core of under-24 youth, and will add to that tally in a hurry, with possibly two lottery selections and one early first-rounder (the No. 33 selection) in next month’s draft. “This job has tremendous growth potential, which is very attractive,” team president Jeff Weltman said. “It has organizational strength and ownership behind it. We are moving into a new practice facility next year. There are a lot of good things happening here. Most importantly, we have a lot of bright young talented players.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. 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:

Nemanja Bjelica, Heat, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $20.5MM deal in 2018

There was a lot of bellyaching in Sacramento this season when Bjelica’s minutes were basically handed to Marvin Bagley III, as the Kings evaluated whether to make the 2018 No. 2 overall pick part of their long-term plans. Bjelica didn’t play for a month until injuries forced the Kings’ hands in February. He got a fresh start with Miami when it acquired him at the trade deadline. It hasn’t worked out.

Bjelica has been a non-factor while playing spot minutes. His 3-point shooting has tanked without steady playing time and that’s his top asset. Bjelica might wind up back in Europe unless he’s willing to accept a second-unit role at a much lower salary than he’s made the last three seasons.

Daniel Gafford, Wizards, 22, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6.1MM deal in 2019

When NBA analysts look at which trade deadline acquisitions have made the biggest impact, no one would have guessed that Gafford would be at or near the top of the list. He’s limited offensively but on his best nights, he’s a ferocious rebounder and shot-blocker.

Gafford is averaging 10.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 2.0 BPG in 17.9 MPG for a team that has been decimated by frontcourt injuries. His $1.78MM salary for next season doesn’t fully guarantee until next January. The Wizards hold a $1.93MM option on the 2022/23 season. Rest assured, Washington will keep Gafford around.

John Collins, Hawks, 23, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $11MM deal in 2017

Collins could be the most intriguing free agent on the market this summer. The Hawks can make him a restricted free agency by extending him a $7.7MM qualifying offer. That’s a safe assumption. From there, things will get very interesting. Collins’ name was bandied about in trade rumors this winter – he reportedly turned down a $90MM extension offer with the hope of getting the max, or something close to it, in restricted free agency. Does any other team value Collins as a max-type player? We’ll find out when the market opens.

James Ennis, Magic, 30, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.33MM deal in 2020

The Magic brought back Ennis on a one-year deal for a team with playoff aspirations. Ennis was a starter the first half of the season until the front office decided to hit the reset button. With Orlando in total rebuild mode, Ennis will be seeking a new team this summer.

With the Magic focusing on their youth, Ennis hasn’t played this month, supposedly due to a sore calf. He’s passed through seven teams during his seven seasons in the league. Ennis will likely be looking at a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal for a club seeking insurance at small forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.