James Ennis

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.

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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.

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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.

Rockets Trade James Ennis To Sixers

9:49pm: The trade between the Rockets and Sixers centered around Ennis is official, both teams announced in press releases. Houston traded Ennis to Philadelphia in exchange for the rights to swap the Rockets’ 2021 second-round pick for the Sixers’ 2021 second-rounder.

The 76ers also confirmed the release of Richardson, who was acquired in a separate deal with Toronto this week.

11:45am: The Sixers will waive Richardson to open up room for Ennis, tweets Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

11:11am: The Rockets and Sixers have reached an agreement on a trade that will send James Ennis to Philadelphia, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). According to Charania, Houston will receive the right to swap 2021 second-round picks with the 76ers (Twitter link).

The Rockets signed Ennis to a two-year, minimum salary contract during the 2018 offseason in the hopes that he could help fill the void on the wing created when the team lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency.

The 28-year-old Ennis battled some injuries during his time with the Rockets, but was a solid contributor in the 39 games he played. In 23.6 minutes per contest, he averaged 7.4 PPG on .500/.373/.714 shooting. However, with Iman Shumpert set to arrive in Houston as a result of a three-team trade with Sacramento and Cleveland, it appears the Rockets are willing to move on from Ennis.

The Sixers, meanwhile, will add a solid bench piece at a low cost after sacrificing some depth in their acquisition of Jimmy Butler earlier in the season. It’s unclear how much playing time Ennis will get in Philadelphia, but I’d expect him to see minutes for the second unit in a three-and-D role.

The 76ers will be able to add Ennis to their roster without sending out any salary, since he’s on a minimum deal, though they’ll need to make a corresponding move to open up a roster spot. Malachi Richardson and Justin Patton look like the most expendable pieces on the roster.

As for the Rockets, they started the week at 14 players and had been poised to take on an extra man in their deal with the Kings and Cavs. Moving Ennis will get them back to 14 and will slightly reduce their projected luxury tax bill. They’ll also create a modest trade exception worth Ennis’ salary ($1,621,415).

The exact details on the pick swap rights aren’t yet known — the Rockets may simply get the chance to swap out their pick for the Sixers’ selection during the 2021 second round, but Philadelphia also holds ’21 second-rounders from Denver and New York, so it could be more complicated than that.

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Rockets Notes: House, Ariza, LeBron

As the Rockets got off to a rough start, a big issue plaguing the team was a lack of depth, especially on the wing. With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute departing in the offseason and Carmelo Anthony deemed too much of a negative to be part of the rotation, the Rockets were left with James Ennis and not much else.

That is where the emergence of Danuel House comes into play. As Jonathan Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle, House has stepped up in recent games and provided a much-needed lift for the Rockets. House insists he is focused on hitting shots, playing solid defense and providing energy off the bench, especially as Ennis recently went down with an injury and Eric Gordon has been inserted into the starting lineup.

The Rockets have started to turn things around in recent games, with House providing an unexpected jolt off the bench just when the team needed one.

There’s more from the Rockets:

  • The Rockets have surely missed Ariza’s presence and leadership, which Tania Ganguli details for The Los Angeles Times. Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker are quoted on the value that Ariza can bring to a locker room, especially on the Rockets team that had high aspirations last season.
  • A brief but flashy storyline in the offseason was the potential that LeBron James would join his friend Chris Paul and defending MVP James Harden in Houston to form a new super team. Of course, that never happened and Dave McMenamin of ESPN reveals (via Twitter) that James didn’t give much thought to actually joining the Rockets.
  • The Rockets recently emerged as a potential suitor for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the 25-year-old shooting guard from the Lakers. Caldwell-Pope can provide defense and 3-point shooting, which the Rockets could use more of moving forward.

Injury Updates: Knight, Pistons, Grizzlies, MPJ

Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2016/17 season, is expected to make his Rockets debut next week, head coach Mike D’Antoni said on Tuesday evening (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com). While Knight isn’t expected to take on a major role for his new team, he could help provide some backcourt depth if James Harden, Chris Paul, or Eric Gordon are banged up, perhaps regaining some trade value if he looks good.

As the Rockets prepare to welcome Knight to the active roster, they’re dealing with another injury to a rotation player. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays (via Twitter), James Ennis will miss Thursday’s game and will likely remain on the shelf for a few more days due to a right hamstring issue.

As Houston looks to get healthy, here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • A pair of Pistons players, Glenn Robinson III and Henry Ellenson, have been diagnosed with ankle sprains and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Ellenson had only appeared in two games this season, so his absence won’t impact the team significantly, but Robinson has started 16 games so far, averaging 16.0 MPG.
  • The Grizzlies provided updates on four players today, announcing in a press release that Dillon Brooks is expected to return by the end of the month while Chandler Parsons will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Jevon Carter and Yuta Watanabe are set to resume basketball activities within the next week, according to the club.
  • We haven’t heard much this season about Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr., who continues to recover from back surgery. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hears that Porter is “looking impressive” and says Denver has been surprised with how well Porter has been shooting from beyond the arc.
  • Hawks big man Miles Plumlee recently underwent a non-surgical procedure on his left knee and will be re-evaluated on December 18, according to a press release from the team.

Rockets Notes: Nene, Harden, Ennis, D’Antoni

Rockets big man Nene will miss at least two weeks of action due to a right calf strain, the team announced on Thursday (Twitter link). Nene underwent an MRI on Wednesday after feeling additional pain caused by the injury.

Nene, a 17-year NBA veteran, experienced a setback this week and re-aggravated his calf, according to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko (Twitter link). It’s possible that he winds up being sidelined 3-4 weeks.

Nene is in his third season with the Rockets, providing depth in the frontcourt and a veteran presence essential to contending teams. He averaged 6.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 14.6 minutes per contest in 52 games last season.

There’s more news out of Houston today:

  • James Harden will miss the next two games after suffering a Grade 1-Plus left hamstring strain, the club announced. Harden left Wednesday’s game against the Jazz early in the fourth quarter and underwent an MRI Thursday morning. He will be reevaluated again next week, a crushing blow to a team already without suspended guard Chris Paul.
  • The Rockets also announced a third injury, revealing that forward James Ennis sustained a Grade-2 right hamstring strain during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s road game against the Clippers. Ennis will miss the next two games and is set to be reevaluated next week.
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni sat down with The Athletic’s Sam Amick to discuss the current team, his time with the Suns and the strong locker room dynamic in Houston this year. The Rockets fought through a close seven-game series with the Warriors in May, showing the heart and promise lying within their talented roster.

Southwest Notes: Voulgaris, Mavs, Parsons, Rockets Bench

The Mavericks will hire former professional sports gambler Bob Voulgaris to a front office role, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN report. Voulgaris will be the team’s director of quantitative research and development, another example of how the league is embracing the betting community and gambling after previously shunning it. As a gambler, Voulgaris used analytics and expertise on coaching strategy and tendencies of individual referees. He will now serve as a strategic thinker to help examine on-court strategies.

In other developments from around the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks are facing a new round of sexual harassment allegations in the workplace, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. Several former female employees allege that team photographer Danny Bollinger has a history of propositioning female co-workers and making lewd comments. The allegations were not part of the recently-concluded investigation into workplace misconduct within the organization. Owner Mark Cuban agreed to donate $10MM to organizations that “promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence” following that investigation.
  • Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons received PRP injections in both knees a week before training camp, Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Parsons flew to Germany for the second time this year for a five-day injection process in the hopes of regaining his previous form. Knee injuries have marred his first two seasons with Memphis after he signed a four-year, $94MM contract. “At this point in my career, I’ll try anything,” Parsons told Giannotto. “After the last two years, sign me up to do anything just to have some relief and not feel the way I have.”
  • Offseason additions Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis, Gary Clark, Marquese Chriss and Bruno Caboclo — along with Carmelo Anthony — have made a strong impression on the Rockets, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Most of those players will contribute off the bench for Houston this season. “That second unit, they’ve been whupping on us,” reigning MVP James Harden said.

Rockets Sign Forward James Ennis

JULY 13, 6:57pm: The signing is official, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

JULY 11, 4:36pm: The Rockets will sign free agent forward James Ennis, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that Houston and Ennis have agreed to a two-year deal. The second year will be a player option, Charania adds.James Ennis of the Detroit Pistons

Ennis is a logical three-and-D addition for a Rockets team that has lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute on the wing so far this offseason. A career 35.9% shooter from three-point range, Ennis averaged 7.1 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 72 total games last year with the Grizzlies and Pistons.

Although Ennis was inconsistent from beyond the arc after arriving in Detroit in a deadline trade, the Pistons were said to have “significant interest” in re-signing him entering free agency. Upon officially hitting the market, Ennis reportedly drew interest from the Sixers, Nets, Pelicans, Timberwolves, and Rockets. The Kings also made a strong push for Ennis in recent days, per Charania, but Houston ultimately won out.

According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, the Rockets were able to secure Ennis for the veteran’s minimum, which means his deal will be worth about $3.47MM over two years. That would be a big win for Houston, as the team will still have its full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.337MM) available to offer other free agents.

According to Ian Begley of ESPN.com though, Ennis’ two-year deal will be worth about $4MM, which would require a portion of the MLE unless some generous rounding is involved. We’ll await further clarification.

Having re-signed Chris Paul and Gerald Green, Houston’s main focus in free agency now will be retaining restricted free agent Clint Capela. However, as their deal with Ennis shows, the Rockets still have the flexibility to fill in other holes in their roster while they try to find common ground with Capela. The club is viewed as the frontrunner to land Carmelo Anthony when he reaches the open market.

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