James Ennis

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.

Ennis, Williams Fined For On-Court Altercation

Magic forward James Ennis and Bucks forward Marvin Williams have each been fined $15K for their involvement in an on-court altercation during Game 3, the NBA announced in a press release.

The incident occurred with 5:39 remaining in the second quarter of Saturday’s contest, with Ennis and Williams battling for position and quickly getting tangled up. Both players began shoving each other and were subsequently ejected after the scuffle.

Williams has stated he has no interest in apologizing to Ennis and described the situation as one where he defended himself as a man, as relayed by Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).

Milwaukee defeated Orlando 121-107 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s 35 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Ennis, a starter, recorded one point and two rebounds prior to being ejected, while Williams grabbed two rebounds in six minutes off the bench.

The Bucks currently lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled to be aired by NBA TV on Monday.

Markelle Fultz, James Ennis Report To Magic

Magic guard Markelle Fultz has arrived at the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus and has begun his initial quarantine period, a league source told Josh Robbins of The Athletic this morning (Twitter link).

As Robbins notes, Fultz didn’t travel with the rest of the Magic when the team headed to Disney last Tuesday. Fultz’s arrival was delayed by a personal matter, unrelated to COVID-19. Once he returns a pair of negative coronavirus tests, clears quarantine, and passes a conditioning test, he’ll be able to join the Magic for practices.

Meanwhile, forward James Ennis told reporters on a Zoom call that he was the Magic player who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, Robbins tweets. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman had said last Tuesday when the club arrived at Disney that one player didn’t accompany the team due to a positive COVID-19 test.

According to Robbins, Ennis had a headache for four or five days and experienced some nausea, but is feeling good now. He has completed his quarantine period and practiced on Wednesday with the Magic for the first time since arriving at the campus.

I’m just trying to get my wind up and my legs back under me and just get in rhythm, because our first scrimmage is next week,” Ennis said, per Robbins (Twitter link). “I want to be prepared for that.”

The Magic, who currently hold the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, will be looking to secure a playoff spot when they resume play on July 31. Their goal will be to pass the depleted Nets for the No. 7 seed, which would allow them to avoid a first-round matchup with the 53-12 Bucks.

Magic Notes: Offense, Augustin, Ennis

After finishing last season on a 22-9 run to nab the seventh seed in the East, the Magic entered the 2019/20 season looking to build on that second-half success and take another step forward. But so far, injuries and struggles on the offensive end have held the club back.

Orlando’s 105.5 offensive rating is easily the worst mark of any playoff team, ranking 26th overall in the NBA. However, asked by Josh Robbins of The Athletic if the Magic will prioritize acquiring offensive-minded players going forward, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman suggested it isn’t quite that simple.

“I think we’ve already done that. I just think that they’re young,” Weltman said.Jonathan Isaac is going to be a good offensive player. Mo Bamba’s going to be a good offensive player. Chuma Okeke is going to be a good offensive player. We’re trying to get two-way players. The trick is to not get guys who are just good offensive players. So I don’t think we look at it like, ‘This year we draft an offensive player.’ We try to draft good basketball players.”

Although the Magic had an opportunity to add reinforcements at the trade deadline last week, they ended up only making one minor move, bringing in James Ennis in exchange for a late-second round pick. Weltman told Robbins that it’s hard to say for sure how close he got to making additional moves.

“I always say you’d have to ask the other teams,” he said. “I can tell you that we had a few connections that we made with teams and talks that got seemingly substantial. But at the end of the day, this is a poker game, and when the hand gets folded, the other team doesn’t show you its cards. So I really don’t know.”

Here’s more out of Orlando:

  • Injured point guard D.J. Augustin seems to be on track to return to the Magic’s rotation shortly after the All-Star break, tweets Robbins. Augustin, who has primarily come off the bench this season, has been on the shelf with a knee injury since January 13.
  • Newly-acquired swingman James Ennis, who waived his no-trade clause to join the Magic last week, says he did so because he wanted a chance at an increased role, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. “I waived it because it was time for me be selfish,” Ennis said. “I was unselfish this (past) summer by giving up more money to go back to Philly. And when I stopped playing in Philly and I saw a good opportunity to come here due to the injuries. But, I’m glad that I’m here now.” After averaging just 7.2 minutes per game in his last seven contests with Philadelphia, Ennis logged 16 minutes in his first game with the Magic on Monday.
  • After Orlando’s City Council approved a land sale to the Magic this week, the team is moving forward with plans to build a new practice facility that will open for the 2021/22 season, Robbins writes at The Athletic. The Magic currently practice at the Amway Center, but the team’s new facility will be a separate building that includes a community health center and offices for the basketball operations staff.

Southeast Notes: Young, Ennis, Clifford, Curry

The Hawks brought in a major acquisition ahead of last Thursday’s trade deadline, trading for center Clint Capela in a four-team deal that featured 12 different players.

General manager Travis Schlenk also traded Jabari Parker and Alex Len to Sacramento in exchange for Dewayne Dedmon and a pair of second round-picks, later acquiring Skal Labissiere and cash from Portland for a 2024 second-round pick.

The deals received high praise from observers around the league, none more important than one figure in particular: All-Star point guard Trae Young.

“It’s hard to tell because we haven’t played with each other,” Young said when asked how good this current group of players could be, as relayed by Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “I think once we play with each other well really be able to feel if it’s going good. Everyone wants instant gratification and instantly knowing what’s going to happen and what we should expect, but we really don’t know until we play with each other. I feel like it’s going to be great for us but I don’t really know until we play together.

“I definitely feel like a lot of teams made some good moves, but we are up there with making some of the biggest moves. We got some really good guys and I definitely think we are one of the winners of the trade deadline.”

Atlanta now sports a promising core of Young, Capela, Kevin Huerter and John Collins, along with young talents such as De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. The one major question remains how far this group could go in the improving Eastern Conference.

“I think we’re right there,” Young said. “I think we’re ready to make that jump.”

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic forward James Ennis hopes to find some stability with his new team, Luis Torres of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Ennis, a proven six-year NBA veteran, saw his playing time suddenly decrease in Philadelphia and was traded to Orlando in exchange for a second-round pick last week. Ennis consulted with family members and agent Scott Nichols of Rize Management before ultimately waiving his no-trade clause and accepting the trade. “It came down to what was best for me,” Ennis said. “I gave up a lot in the summer to go [back] to Philly so it was time for me to be selfish. When I saw Orlando wanted me, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go there.’ I feel like it’s a good fit.”
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford was fined $25,000 by the NBA for verbally abusing game officials, the league announced in a press release. The incident occurred at the end of the team’s loss in New York last Thursday.
  • Mavericks guard Seth Curry would welcome the opportunity to play in his hometown in Charlotte with the Hornets at some point in his career, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. “I’d love to,” Curry said following the team’s win against Charlotte on Saturday. “If the opportunity came about, I would embrace it.” Curry’s contract with Dallas runs through 2023, so he’s expected to remain with the Mavs for the foreseeable future.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. 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:

Davis Bertans, Wizards, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.5MM deal in 2018
The fact that the Wizards set such a high price on the unrestricted free agent, reportedly asking for two first-rounders and possibly more, shows how much Bertans is valued by the organization and other clubs. He’s averaging 15 PPG, albeit for one of the league’s worst teams, but his 3-point shooting is craved around the league. Big guys who can shoot 42.9% from deep, as Bertans has the past two seasons, command a high price tag. Washington desperately wants to re-sign Bertans and hopes the loyalty it showed will have an impact this summer. But the Wizards will have plenty of competition for his services.

Treveon Graham, Hawks, 26, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.16MM deal in 2018
Graham was tossed into the deal that sent Allen Crabbe to the Timberwolves last month. Perhaps the only thing surprising about Graham is that he wasn’t thrown into another trade by the very active Atlanta front office. He received steady playing time with Minnesota (20.1 MPG), including 20 starts, but his impact on the Hawks has been minimal. He’s scored a total of 12 points in nine appearances. Graham just isn’t enough of an offensive threat and defenses don’t have to respect him on the perimeter. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and he’ll be looking at minimum deals at best.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets, 26, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $52MM deal in 2016
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.. Yes, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft is still in the league. In fact, he’s just 26 years old. Injuries sidetracked MKG’s career but a bigger issue is his lack of an offensive game. Ben Simmons can get a max contract without a 3-point shot because of his wondrous playmaking skills and defensive versatility. A 6’6” forward without an outside shot is a dinosaur into today’s NBA. MKG has appeared in just 12 games this season and hasn’t seen the floor since late December. Charlotte’s front office is just counting the days to get his contract off its books.

Jae Crowder, Heat, 29, SF (Up) – Signed to five-year, $35MM deal in 2015
Crowder was quietly enjoying one of his best seasons with the Grizzlies before getting dealt to Miami just before the deadline. He started regularly for Memphis despite modest offensive numbers (9.9 PPG on 36.8% shooting), finding other ways to contribute. He was averaging career highs in rebounding (6.2 RPG) and assists (2.8 APG) along with playing his usual solid defense. It will be interesting to see how coach Erik Spoelstra incorporates Crowder into the rotation but the impending unrestricted free agent will get an opportunity to show his value on a now serious Eastern Conference contender.

James Ennis, Magic, 29, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4MM deal in 2019
Ennis’ playing time had diminished before the Sixers, who acquired perimeter shooters from the Warriors, found a new home for the journeyman forward. The Magic were willing to give up a second-round pick in order to secure Ennis’ services. Orlando president Jeff Weltman said Ennis will add “shooting, athleticism, and toughness” to the team, so from all indications he’ll jump right into the rotation. Ennis is an adequate perimeter shooter and a factor in the open floor. Ennis holds a $2.13MM player option on his contract next season and could choose to opt out with a strong finish.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Trade James Ennis To Magic

4:03pm: The trade is now official, the Magic announced in a press release. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement that Ennis will add “shooting, athleticism, and toughness” to the team.

Orlando also confirmed the release of Amile Jefferson, which we noted in a separate story.

2:00pm: The Sixers have reached an agreement to trade James Ennis to the Magic in exchange for a second-round pick, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ennis’ approval was required to complete the deal, adds Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). He has veto power over any trade because he’s on a one-year Bird restriction.

Philadelphia will receive the Lakers’ 2020 second-rounder in return, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). It would be 59th overall if L.A. remains in its current position in our Reverse Standings.

Because Orlando has a full roster, an opening must be created before the deal can be finalized. The most likely move is an early termination for Gary Clark‘s second 10-day contract, which expires tomorrow night.

The Sixers needed to clear two players off their roster after agreeing to a deal last night with the Warriors that will bring Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III  in exchange for three second-round picks.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. 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 Atlantic Division:

Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in 2018
VanVleet was a key reserve in the Raptors’ run to the championship. With Danny Green‘s departure, he’s now a backcourt starter alongside Kyle Lowry. Green was mainly a floor spacer, while VanVleet has provided the added element of playmaking to help make up for the enormous loss of Kawhi Leonard. He’s averaging a team-high 7.2 assists through the first five games while getting the line more often and delivering his usual excellent shooting from deep. An unrestricted free agent next summer, VanVleet will attract plenty of attention in a weak FA market.

James Ennis, Sixers, 29, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4MM deal in 2019
Ennis has bounced around the league, wearing six different uniforms since his rookie year in 2014/15. He saw action in 18 regular-season and 11 postseason games with Philadelphia after being acquired from the Rockets in a trade deadline swap. Thus far this season, Ennis has retained a rotation spot and helped around the boards (5.8 RPG in 14.0 MPG). Ennis has a $2.13MM player option after the season — if can remain a contributor on a contender, perhaps he’ll feel comfortable opting out and testing the market for additional security.

Marcus Morris, Knicks, 30, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019
Morris caused a lot of consternation in the Spurs’ organization by reneging on a two-year verbal agreement and then signing a one-year deal with New York, giving him more money this season and the freedom to explore the market again next year. In his first five games with the Knicks, Morris is the one doing the squawking. He’s already picked up a league-high three technicals. He’s also off to a slow shooting start (35%). It’s hard to see Morris enhancing his value with New York but his expiring contract could be attractive to a contender looking for a frontcourt player.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019
Theis’ $5MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed until July 3rd and there will a number of factors playing into the Celtics’ decision next summer, especially whether Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter opt in. What Theis can control is being productive when he gets opportunities and making it a tougher decision for the front office. Theis needs to have more nights like he did Wednesday, when coach Brad Stevens used him for 28 minutes and he produced 11 points and nine rebounds. The 6’8” Theis will see quite a bit of time at the ‘five’ spot in downsized lineups.

Wilson Chandler, Nets, 32, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Chandler quietly latched on with the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract while they inked deals with high-profile free agents Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Chandler’s chances of carving out a role in coach Kenny Atkinson‘s rotation was squashed by a 25-game league suspension for a failed PED test. It’s uncertain what Brooklyn plans are for Chandler once he becomes eligible on December 15. However, the suspension won’t make it any easier for his agent to find his client work next summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.