James Ennis

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.”

Free Agent Rumors: Cousins, Kawhi, D. Green, Ennis

Big man DeMarcus Cousins is perhaps the biggest name left among free agents besides Kawhi Leonard, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a market for him, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on the network (video link). According to Wojnarowski, it’s not even necessarily a lock that Cousins will exceed the one-year, $5.34MM deal he signed with the Warriors a year ago.

In a separate appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Woj suggested that a one-year deal below $10MM for Cousins appears to be the most likely scenario, while ESPN’s Tim Bontemps pointed to the Lakers as one team that might be a fit in terms of cap room — but only if they fail to land Leonard.

Here’s more on some of the remaining free agents:

  • Former NBA player Kendrick Perkins (Twitter link) hears that Kawhi Leonard met with the Clippers on Monday night, though Perkins believes the Lakers have the “upper hand” of the two L.A. teams. After meeting with the Clippers and Lakers, Kawhi is expected to give the Raptors the chance to make the final pitch before he finalizes his decision.
  • The Mavericks are in “strong position” to land free agent shooting guard Danny Green, regardless of what happens with Leonard’s free agency, tweets his podcast co-host Harrison D. Sanford. According to Sanford (via Twitter), Dallas views Green as a valuable floor spacer and locker-room presence.
  • With approximately $4MM in cap space and their $4.8MM room exception still available, the Knicks have checked in on free agent wing James Ennis, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv. According to Begley (via Twitter), the Lakers and Clippers are also among the clubs that have touched base with Ennis since free agency started.

James Ennis On Potential Return To Sixers: “I Would Love To Come Back”

Swingman James Ennis hopes to re-sign with the Sixers on a new, long-term deal in free agency, one that could give him some newfound stability in what’s been a roller coaster career to date, the 28-year-old told Hoops Rumors.

Ennis, who was a key cog off the 76ers’ bench during the playoffs, got traded to Philadelphia halfway through the season after starting the campaign in Houston. He worked his way up the ladder and gained more playing time, quickly earning the trust of head coach Brett Brown.

Ennis — along with agent Scott Nichols of Rize Management — informed the Sixers of his decision to decline a $1.85MM player option for the 2019/20 season last month. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent once free agency opens on June 30 at 6:00pm eastern time.

“I love the [Sixers] fans,” Ennis told Hoops Rumors. “I love how they support the team. I like Philly a lot and I would love to come back.”

Ennis, who held per-game averages of 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 21.1 minutes in the playoffs, is expected to seek a more lucrative multiyear deal and will receive interest from multiple teams.

The Sixers’ ability to retain Ennis could hinge in part on what Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick choose to do in free agency. Philadelphia will only hold Ennis’ Non-Bird rights, limiting the club’s ability to offer much of a raise, so cap room or another exception will likely be required to bring him back. Another franchise in need of a serviceable bench option could steal him away if the right contract is offered.

“It’s good to have leverage,” Ennis said of declining his player option. “When you have stability, you’re more comfortable. You know when you’re going to play, how much you’re going to play, it makes it easier. It was more consistent [playing time] towards the end of the season going into the playoffs. I was comfortable.”

Ennis has made stops with a handful of teams in his five-season NBA career, spending time with Miami, Memphis (twice), New Orleans, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia. During that time, he has worked hard to establish himself as a two-way player, which is a major reason why he’s expected to seek a multiyear deal on the open market.

“I know my worth,” Ennis said. “I’ve put in a lot of work, and I know I’m better than a lot of the players who get $40MM [multiyear deals]. I know I’m better than a lot of players and I showed it in the playoffs — if you call my number I’ll be ready and I can produce.”

For Ennis, a journeyman now set to bet on himself in unrestricted free agency, declining his player option didn’t signify a desire to leave the 76ers. He has already held discussions with Brown about how he can improve his game entering next season, labeling defense and three-point shooting as two major areas to work on this offseason.

“I’m always gonna try to get better defensively, lateral movements and stuff like that,” Ennis said. “But just being a consistent knock-down three-point shooter [is the goal]. I think I shoot the ball okay, but I’ll be an elite shooter next year. Definitely.”

Sixers general manager Elton Brand will certainly have his hands full in free agency with the decisions of Butler, Harris, Redick and others this summer. But Ennis’ situation shouldn’t be ignored, especially given the club’s depth issues down the stretch.

Brand and his contingent have less than three weeks to develop a game plan for how they can re-sign their free agents, many of whom helped the team go down to the wire in a Game 7 against Toronto in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Bringing back those free agents was the Sixers’ goal when Ennis, Butler and Harris were acquired in separate trades during the season, and it’s still publicly and privately their primary goal today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

James Ennis To Opt Out, Become Free Agent

Sixers swingman James Ennis will turn down his player option for the 2019/20 season, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The decision, which agent Scott Nichols confirmed to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link), will put Ennis on track to reach unrestricted free agency in July.

Ennis, who will turn 29 on the same day he hits the open market on July 1, spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Rockets before being dealt to the Sixers in a cost-cutting deadline deal. After posting 7.4 PPG on .493/.367/.724 shooting in 40 games (25 starts) for Houston, Ennis struggled in Philadelphia and saw those averages decline to 5.3 PPG on .410/.306/.696 shooting.

Still, given the 76ers’ limited depth, Ennis played a key role off the bench for the club in the postseason. In the team’s second-round series vs. Toronto, he posted 7.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG on .442/.304/.588 shooting in 22.7 minutes per contest.

While those numbers won’t earn Ennis a massive payday, his two-way abilities should put him in position for a raise after he earned the minimum in 2018/19. His player option would have paid him just $1,845,301. According to Charania (via Twitter), the former second-round pick is expected to command a multiyear contract this offseason.

While a reunion with the Sixers isn’t out of the question, the team’s ability to re-sign Ennis will be extremely limited. Philadelphia will only hold his Non-Bird rights, so cap room or an exception would likely be required to bring him back. The 76ers also figure to be more focused on retaining players like Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and J.J. Redick.

For more on player option decisions for 2019/20, be sure to check out our tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Carter-Williams, Gasol, Olynyk, Ennis

Michael Carter-Williams has thrived in his new role with the Magic, adding defense, size and a much-needed boost of energy off the bench.

Carter-Williams, who won the Rookie of the Year award during the 2013/14 season, has since bounced around the league with multiple teams and largely failed to find a concrete role. That is, of course, until Orlando took a chance on him with two 10-day contracts last month.

“It’s great. It’s a blessing. I can only thank everybody here for giving me the chance to come in and show what I can do,” Carter-Williams said, according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “I always believed in myself … just a matter of time until I got the chance.”

The Magic are 8-2 since signing Carter-Williams to a first 10-day contract. His hard work paid off in his limited amount of time with the team, and the 27-year-old happily signed a rest-of-season contract with the organization on April 4.

“It definitely feels good, I can’t lie,” Carter-Williams said. “Everybody is playing well … everyone’s been solid. We’ve all had big moments in those [eight] wins.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Marc Gasol has quickly adjusted to his new role with the Raptors, positively impacting the team on both ends of the floor, Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star writes. Gasol grew acclimated to his new teammates and play style quicker than most expected, with Toronto holding a 17-8 record since acquiring him. “It’s just weird that he stepped in day one and he was right on point … He doesn’t need a learning curve,” teammate Fred VanVleet said of Gasol. “He stepped in from day one and was able to adjust to pretty much everything we did. So that just speaks to his basketball IQ.”
  • Heat forward Kelly Olynyk has kept tabs on the Canadian men’s national team, most notably the team’s head coaching search ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup that starts on August 31, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. Olynyk, who was born in Canada, will likely play for the team this summer. “It’s not a thing where we need someone to micromanage a game and do all that stuff and trick other teams,” he said of the team’s coaching search. “We have the talent, we have the abilities we just need someone to help us put them to the test.”
  • Derek Bodner of The Athletic ponders how the Sixers could adjust with the latest injury to forward James Ennis. Ennis, who’s averaged 5.3 points and 15.6 minutes off the Sixers’ bench in 18 games, sustained a right quad contusion last week that’ll likely force him to miss at least part of the first round. Jonathon Simmons could receive more playing time in Ennis’ absence, with the playoffs just one week away.

James Ennis To Miss At Least Two Weeks

Sixers forward James Ennis will miss at least two weeks of action after suffering a contusion of his right quad, the team has announced.

Ennis sustained the injury during the third quarter of the club’s game against the Hawks on Wednesday, according to the press release. He’ll miss at least part of the first round due to the injury, with the playoffs set to begin in just 10 days.

Ennis, 28, holds per-game averages of 5.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 18 games with the Sixers this season, shooting 41% from the floor and 31% from 3-point range. Philadelphia acquired him in a deal with Houston before the trade deadline, sending away the swap rights to a 2021 second-round pick.

Entering Thursday’s game against Milwaukee, the Sixers were dealing with injuries to Jimmy Butler (back), J.J. Redick (quad) and Joel Embiid (knee). Redick and Butler suited up for the game, while Butler was unable to play.

Philadelphia currently holds the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at 49-29, leading the Pacers and Celtics by 2.5 games with four contests left in the regular season.