James Ennis

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.

Injury Notes: Ingram, Vucevic, LeBron, Magic

An MRI has revealed that Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram suffered a left low-ankle sprain during the team’s 108-103 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday, the team has announced via Twitter. Ingram is set to miss Friday night’s contest against the Sixers and is considered day-to-day with the injury beyond that.

Losing Ingram, the club’s second-leading scorer behind All-Star forward Zion Williamson, could be a major blow for New Orleans as the team strives to qualify for the play-in tournament in a crowded Western Conference field. With a 30-36 record, the Pelicans currently sit just two games behind the Spurs for a shot at the play-in tournament in the West this season.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • Bulls All-Star center Nikola Vučević (adductor) was able to fully participate in a team practice today, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Head coach Billy Donovan commented that the sharp-shooting big man, who has missed the club’s last two games, “looked fine.”
  • Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James will miss at least the next two games and potentially more as he grapples with fresh, sharp pain in his sprained ankle, Dave McMenamin told Rachel Nichols and Richard Jefferson on ESPN’s The Jump (Twitter video link). A source informed McMenamin that James is “focusing on the big picture” right now. “Does ‘big picture’ mean two more games missed? I’m not so sure,” McMenamin said. “He is clearly prioritizing using every bit of time he can to… get back for the playoffs.”
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford has indicated that five injured players could miss the rest of the 2020/21 NBA season, tweets Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams and power forward Chuma Okeke are both sidelined with ankle sprains. Wing James Ennis is unavailable with a sore calf. Injury-prone forward Otto Porter Jr., who has played in just 28 games this season for the Magic and Bulls, is struggling with foot pain. Swingman Terrence Ross has been felled by back spasms. “I don’t even know what the time frame [is],” Clifford conceded. “If you look at the schedule now, it’s seven games, I think it’d be 12 days, and I’m not sure even if any of those guys are that close, to be honest with you.”

Injury Updates: Hayward, Kemba, Thompson, Ennis, Morris

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who broke the bone at the base of his right pinky finger last week, will be available for Charlotte’s regular season opener in Cleveland on Wednesday, he said today (Twitter link via team).

When Hayward’s injury was announced last Wednesday, a report indicated that the Hornets didn’t believe he’d require surgery and that he’d likely be able to return to action when he felt he could comfortably manage the pain and perform effectively. Apparently, it didn’t take long for the veteran forward to feel comfortable playing through the injury.

Here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • Celtics point guard Kemba Walker is still “a long way away,” head coach Brad Stevens said today (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Walker, who is rehabbing a left knee injury, is still limited to 1-on-1 work with a coach, and the team won’t update his status until the first week of January. Stevens is hopeful that big man Tristan Thompson (hamstring) will be able to play in Boston’s opener on Wednesday, Bontemps adds (via Twitter).
  • Magic swingman James Ennis will miss the first game of the season due to hamstring and calf injuries and his status beyond that game is questionable, head coach Steve Clifford said today (Twitter link via Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel).
  • The Clippers have listed Marcus Morris as out for their regular season opener on Tuesday night due to right knee soreness (link via ESPN). Morris didn’t play in any of the club’s three preseason games.

Magic Re-Sign James Ennis

NOVEMBER 25: The Magic have officially re-signed Ennis, the team announced today in a press release. Orlando completed the signing using part of its mid-level exception for a salary of $3.3MM, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports.


NOVEMBER 20: The Magic are re-signing small forward James Ennis on a one-year contract, The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweets.

Orlando acquired Ennis from Philadelphia in a trade deadline deal in February. He started 18 of 20 regular-season games with the Magic, averaging 8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 1.1 APG in 24.5 MPG.

Ennis has also played for Miami, New Orleans, Memphis, Houston and Detroit in his journeyman career. In 347 career appearances, he’s averaged 6.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 20.1 MPG. He’s a career 35.0% 3-point shooter.

Ennis had a player option worth $2.13MM but he declined it in order to test the free agent market. He wound up right back where he started and could be the team’s starting small forward, depending upon how the remainder of the team’s offseason plays out.

James Ennis Declining Option, Will Become Free Agent

Magic swingman James Ennis will turn down his player option for the 2020/21 season and become a free agent, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ennis’ option was worth the veteran’s minimum ($2.13MM), so there’s little risk in declining it in search of a more favorable deal. If he ends up on another minimum deal, it’d be worth about $2.03MM, so his pay cut would be minimal.

Ennis, who re-signed with the 76ers as a free agent last summer, averaged 5.8 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 49 games (15.8 MPG) as part of Philadelphia’s rotation. However, when they went out and acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III at the trade deadline for depth purposes, the Sixers decided to move Ennis, sending him to Orlando for a second-round pick.

With the Magic, Ennis recorded 8.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .451/.286/.838 shooting in 20 games (24.5 MPG). He also started all five of Orlando’s playoff games.

And-Ones: Option Decisions, Avdija, Draft, Onuaku

With the NBA season over and 2020’s free agent period approaching (eventually), John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at all 43 team and player option decisions that must be made this fall, evaluating which options are likely to be exercised and which will be turned down.

While Anthony Davis and Jerami Grant are viewed as the only locks to decline their respective player options this offseason, Hollinger identifies seven more players who he thinks will opt for free agency: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Wesley Matthews, Austin Rivers, Willie Cauley-Stein, and James Ennis.

With the exception of Caldwell-Pope, McGee, and Cauley-Stein – who is technically earning slightly above the minimum – those players are all on minimum-salary deals, so it won’t be a surprise if they explore the open market, even if they have to settle for another minimum contract. However, KCP’s case should be interesting — his $8.49MM option for 2020/21 is close to mid-level territory, but he could still probably do better after an impressive showing in the NBA Finals.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks take a look at next steps for the NBA, including what next season’s schedule might look like and when roster moves might resume. While there’s currently a freeze on transactions, team executives confirmed to ESPN that the moratorium will be lifted and trades will be permitted before the draft on November 18.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jeremy Woo of SI.com have each published updated versions of their mock drafts for 2020. Both draft experts have Anthony Edwards going No. 1, but O’Connor has a surprise pick at No. 2, penciling in Deni Avdija. League executives expect Avdija to “enter the mainstream conversation as a top-three pick” in the coming weeks, according to O’Connor.
  • Former NBA big man Chinanu Onuaku has reached an agreement to sign with Croatian team KK Zadar, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Onuaku was the 37th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but didn’t see much action in two seasons with Houston, appearing in just six total games before being traded and waived.