James Ennis

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Timberwolves Eyeing Nick Young, Other Free Agents

4:06pm: Wolfson adds Jeff Green, Malcolm Delaney, and Treveon Graham to the list of free agents that the Timberwolves have inquired on so far (Twitter link).

12:15pm: The Timberwolves have interest in Nick Young among several other free agents, according to ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter link).

Young is coming off a down year in Golden State where he sported just a 10.0 player efficiency rating and scored just 7.3 points per game. It’s hard to envision the shooting guard surpassing the $5.19MM salary he received with the Warriors last season after floundering alongside the best supporting cast he’s ever played with.

Minnesota has the non-tax mid-level ($8.6MM) and the bi-annual ($3.4MM) at its disposal. However, with approximately $115MM already on the books, the team must be careful when handing out deals if it intends to stay below the luxury tax line. If a team uses its bi-annual exception or more than the taxpayer portion of its MLE, it becomes hard-capped for the season.

Dante Cunningham and James Ennis are among other free agents the Wolves are keeping an eye on, Wolfson adds. Lance Stephenson remains a possibility for one of the team’s five open roster spots. Minnesota is among the teams expected to have interest in the mercurial shooting guard once the first wave of free agents sign.

Other candidates for the team’s openings include Trevor Booker, Amir Johnson, Jabari Bird and Anthony Tolliver. Coach/executive Tom Thibodeau reportedly has spoken with Tolliver and team values the power forward’s lockerroom presence.

Sixers Notes: Ennis, Ilyasova, Bird, Milton

The Sixers have their eyes on free agent forward James Ennis, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley, but landing him won’t be easy. Detroit owns Early Bird rights on Ennis and has made re-signing him a priority.

Ennis, 28, came to the Pistons at the trade deadline after beginning the season in Memphis. He was a part-time starter in Detroit and averaged 7.5 points per game. He earned a little more than $3MM this season.

The Rockets and Nets have also expressed interest in Ennis, according to Begley. The Pelicans would also like to sign him, but the growing interest may push him outside their price range, adds Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link). Ennis played nine games in New Orleans at the end of the 2015/16 season.

There’s more from Philadelphia on the first day of free agency:

  • The Sixers talked to veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova about a return before he signed a three-year, $21MM deal with the Bucks, according to Gery Woelful of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link). The Lakers, Timberwolves and Raptors were other options for Ilyasova.
  • The Sixers are among the teams showing interest in Celtics shooting guard Jabari Bird, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, who adds that the Wolves are also considering an offer. Bird was a two-way player for Boston this season, appearing in 13 NBA games and averaging 3.0 points in 8.0 minutes per night. He was a big scorer for the Celtics’ G League affiliate in Maine, posting a 19.3/5.8/2.7 line in 20 games. Boston submitted a qualifying offer this week, making Bird a restricted free agent.
  • Second-round pick Shake Milton will be held out of summer league play because of a stress fracture in his back, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The team plans to re-evaluate him in three weeks. His injury occurred during pre-draft workouts.
  • Justin Anderson had surgery on his left leg due to recurring tibial stress syndrome, the team announced on its website. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks, then again in six to eight weeks. Anderson has spent the past season and a half in Philadelphia and appeared in 38 games this year.

Central Rumors: Hood, Cavs, Pistons, Pacers

While Rodney Hood saw his value slip over the course of the 2017/18 season, he remains a priority for the Cavaliers, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, who hears from a source that Cleveland intends to keep the RFA guard. The Bulls view Hood as a potential Plan B if they lose Zach LaVine, but the Cavs plan on matching an offer sheet from Chicago or any other team, per Deveney.

According to Deveney’s source, both the Cavaliers and Hood are braced for the possibility of the four-year veteran accepting his qualifying offer if he doesn’t find a better deal. Playing out the one-year, $3.47MM contract would allow Hood to rebuild his value in advance of unrestricted free agency in 2019.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central division:

  • The Pistons will be an over-the-cap team this summer, and may not be able to spend their full mid-level exception due to their proximity to the tax line. As such, senior advisor Ed Stefanski says he expects Detroit to be in “the background” of free agency, per Kurt Mensching of The Detroit News. “I like where our team is right now,” Stefanski said. “We have more than enough to compete.”
  • While the Pistons may not aggressively pursue outside free agents, they’d like to bring back a couple of their own. Mensching notes in his article that Detroit has interest in re-signing Anthony Tolliver if the price is right, while a team source tells ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link) that the Pistons have “significant interest” in retaining James Ennis.
  • Victor Oladipo is bullish on the Pacers‘ outlook and sounds like he’d be willing to get involved in recruiting free agents to Indiana, writes Clifton Brown of The Indianapolis Star. However, Oladipo doesn’t expect to be involved in the front office’s decision-making process. “If they ask me, I guess I’ll give them my input,” Oladipo said with a smile. “But for the most part, I just focus on getting better.”

Pistons Notes: Beilein, Stefanski, Casey, Bullock

Interviewing for the Pistons’ head coaching vacancy was enough NBA experience for Michigan’s John Beilein, relays James Hawkins of The Detroit News. Beilein eventually pulled his name from consideration and agreed to a tentative extension with the Wolverines. He came away convinced that the college atmosphere is best for him.

“It was location, location, location,” Beilein explained in an interview on WBBL. “[Wife] Kathleen and I, we love it. … We wouldn’t really have to move. It was appealing to me and the interest was mutual to an extent, but they had some other great options and I had a great option. It didn’t work out, but I wanted to think it through. I don’t anticipate or plan on ever doing that again and I think people understand that. It’s not like I’ve been doing this every year.”

There’s more news out of Detroit:

  • Hiring Dwane Casey as head coach was the first step in what is shaping up to be an active summer, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Ed Stefanski, the new senior advisor to owner Tom Gores, is hoping to find a general manager in the next week or two. Stefanski could assume the lead role in the front office, either as president or GM, and hire someone younger he can mentor to eventually take over, Beard adds.
  • The team is expected to pick up its $2.5MM option on Reggie Bullock by the July 15 deadline, Beard notes in the same story. That will leave decisions on whether to fully guarantee a $1.8MM contract for Eric Moreland and a $1.6MM deal for Dwight Buycks.
  • The press conference to introduce Casey as head coach won’t take place until next week, Beard adds. The delay is believed to be a matter of coordinating schedules with Gores and some of the players. In the meantime, Casey is in Los Angeles to meet with several Pistons who conduct their offseason workouts there, such as Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard.
  • Forward James Ennis, who is headed for free agency, has decided to change agents, according to HoopsHype (Twitter link). He will be represented by Scott Nichols of Rize Management.

Pistons Notes: Van Gundy, Ennis, Tolliver, Griffin

For all the coaching news that has been made since the season ended, things have remained quiet in Detroit, notes Ansar Khan of MLive. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy was scheduled to meet with owner Tom Gores this week in Los Angeles after missing the playoffs for the third time in his four years on the Pistons’ bench, but no update has come from those talks. Gores said he plans to evaluate Van Gundy’s coaching and front office roles separately, and there is speculation he could be asked to relinquish one or the other.

The delay may be a positive sign for Van Gunday, Khan wrote earlier this week, as teams tend to act quickly when making a coaching change to give themselves a shot at the best candidates on the market. Van Gundy, who has a 152-176 record in Detroit, has one season remaining on a five-year, $35MM contract.

There’s more tonight out of Detroit:

  • The Pistons like free agents James Ennis and Anthony Tolliver enough to try to bring both of them back next season, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com in a mailbag column. Ennis was a part-time starter after being acquired from the Grizzlies at the trade deadline and averaged 7.5 points in 27 games with Detroit. Tolliver, a veteran defensive specialist who signed with the Pistons last summer, can be had at or near the veteran’s minimum, Langlois adds, and Detroit’s front office will probably have time to evaluate its other moves before deciding whether to offer him a contract.
  • It’s still too early to gauge whether the Pistons gave up too much to acquire Blake Griffin, Langlois contends in the same piece. The price tag was Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a pair of draft picks. The Pistons were willing to accept Griffin’s injury risk on top of a massive, newly signed contract, but Langlois states the gamble will be worth it if he can stay relatively healthy.
  • Don’t be surprised if the Pistons target a point guard in this year’s draft, Langlois adds. Ish Smith will be a free agent next summer and Reggie Jackson is under contract for two more seasons, so that could quickly become a position of need. However, because its first-round pick went to the Clippers in the Griffin trade, Detroit’s only selection is at No. 42.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Detroit Pistons

The Pistons made it clear with their midseason blockbuster that they’re interested in competing in the Eastern Conference right away. While we won’t truly know the outcome of the Blake Griffin trade until the roster logs a full, reasonably healthy season together, there’s no denying that the franchise is committed to this core for better or worse.

With over $117MM already on the books for 2018/19, president Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower have little room to get cute in free agency this summer. For that reason, the Pistons will have to rely primarily on in-house upgrades, and any reinforcements that do come from elsewhere will need to be modest.

James Ennis, SF, 28 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $6MM deal in 2016James Ennis of the Detroit Pistons
The Pistons brought Ennis aboard in one of their deadline-day deals, seemingly desperate to pad their core with solid veterans. While Ennis is typically a glue guy, capable of knocking down shots and contributing defensively, it’s hard to imagine that he showed enough during his half-season in Detroit to justify a raise — or even a similar contract to his current deal. The Pistons could benefit from having Ennis’ toughness on the perimeter as they look to establish themselves in the East, but they could probably seek out that skill-set on the cheap if they want to trim their overall payroll.

Jameer Nelson, PG, 36 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
One can’t fault Van Gundy for turning to a former pupil to help his current team take the next step, but the acquisition of Nelson has to be considered – by and large – a disappointment. The veteran point guard only played seven games during his time with the Pistons and was usurped on the depth chart by Dwight Buycks. With Reggie Jackson back in the fold for 2018/19, the team will already have three relatively capable options at the point, leaving little room for Nelson.

Anthony Tolliver, PF, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $3MM deal in 2017
It was a disappointing season for the Pistons, but one consistent presence that helped provide stability as the club dealt with injuries and personnel turnover was Tolliver. Fresh off the second-highest scoring year of his 10-year career, Tolliver will be an intriguing free agency option for contenders looking to add veteran leadership. He stepped up in 2017/18, showing that he’s more than just a solid locker-room presence, shooting 43.3% from beyond the arc while registering an offensive rating of 125. If the Pistons truly plan on breaking into the postseason picture next season, they’d be wise to bring the 32-year-old combo forward back, since he can fit into whatever role or position the team needs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.