James Ennis

Southwest Notes: McLemore, Ennis, Randle

The Grizzlies are gauging trade interest in swingmen Ben McLemore and James Ennis, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders writes.

The Grizzlies signed McLemore over the offseason to a two-year, $10.7MM deal, presumably hoping that they would be able to tap into something in the former Kansas product that the Kings hoped to find when they drafted him seventh overall in 2013.

McLemore has played just 17.2 points per game this season, adding just 6.5 points per contest in what’s been his least effective NBA campaign since his rookie year.

Scotto adds that the Grizzlies are also dangling Ennis and his expiring $3MM deal, hoping to yield at least one second-round pick.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans are said to be interested in upgrades on the wing, but finding a logical trade scenario is easier said than done. William Guillory of the Times-Picayune writes that it may prove difficult to make the salaries match in a deal for supposedly available perimeter players like Kent Bazemore or Evan Fournier.
  • Rumors that the Mavs could be in pursuit of Texas native Julius Randle were shot down by Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News. His reason? Acquiring a good player ahead of the trade deadline this season is the last thing the presumably lottery-bound club should be doing.
  • Offseason Grizzlies addition Tyreke Evans has thrived this season, proving that, for now at least, he’s healthy and capable of being a prominent producer. As a result, his name has been floated as a possible trade piece, including in a recent media scrum with Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are in an interesting place as a franchise and how they fare over the course of the next few seasons will have an impact on the team’s lasting legacy.

With $160MM tied up in franchise cornerstones Marc Gasol (32 years old) and Mike Conley (30), the good-but-not-exactly-great club has little choice but to keep retooling its rotation with low-cost players capable of possibly contributing to a second-tier Western Conference squad. More importantly, the Grizzlies have to be ready to promptly move on if those experiments don’t pan out.

Memphis isn’t expected to have any cap space next season, so any progress or roster development will have to come from within. Here’s a look at the team’s players who will hit free agency this summer and which way their value is trending.

Mario Chalmers verticalMario Chalmers, PG, 32 (Up) – Signed to 1-year, $2.1MM deal in 2017
The Grizz brought Chalmers back on board after waiving him in the spring of 2016. After spending last season out of the NBA altogether recovering from an Achilles injury, the former Heat punching bag has stepped into a role as a backup point guard and spot starter. Chalmers lacks the ceiling of a younger prospect and doesn’t contribute consistently enough to qualify as a reliable go-to bench option, so don’t expect any teams to offer big money. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of landing slightly more than the veteran’s-minimum contract he signed for last summer. If he stays healthy, Chalmers could find other suitors around the league. But with little reliable point guard depth under contract, the Grizzlies may be among those most eager to sign him.

James Ennis, SF, 28 (Down) – Signed to 2-year, $5.9MM deal in 2016
Memphis isn’t afraid to give Ennis a sizable workload, as evidenced by the 23.5 minutes per game he saw last year (which has risen to 26.5 so far in 2017/18), but the small forward isn’t particularly effective with that time on the court. With so many other swingmen on the roster, three of whom were signed just last summer, it doesn’t make much sense for the Grizzlies to commit long-term to the gritty veteran.

Tyreke Evans, SG/SF, 28 (Up) – Signed to 1-year, $3.3MM deal in 2017
The Grizzlies got one of the biggest bargains of the summer when they signed Evans with their bi-annual exception. The biggest issue with Evans, however, is health — he played just 65 games over the course of the previous two seasons. That said, Evans has shown no signs of lingering ailments so far this season and has averaged a head-turning 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in just 28.2 minutes per contest. If Evans keeps up his trademark versatile play for a full season, he’ll yield plenty more on the open market than what Memphis will be able to cover with his Non-Bird rights.

Brandan Wright, PF/C, 30 (Down) – Signed to 3-year, $17.2MM deal in 2015
Having played in just 40 games over the course of the past two seasons – and having been traded twice mid-season the year before that – it’s hard to know what to expect out of Wright. While the big man was once a surprisingly productive reserve, he suddenly qualifies as a 30-year-old journeyman who has made six forgettable stops over the course of 10 NBA seasons. Wright has done an admirable job trying to fill holes in Memphis’ depleted 2017/18 rotation, averaging 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes, but given his spotty track record, don’t expect him to net more than the veteran’s minimum next summer.

Player ages as of July 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies Waive Toney Douglas

The Grizzlies are waiving Toney Douglas, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that three of Memphis’ injured players are getting close to returning. Douglas was signed by the Grizzlies using a hardship exception, which allowed the team to add a 16th man to its roster since four players were sidelined for an extended period.

We had already heard that James Ennis, one of those four injured Grizzlies players, was nearing a return, but Wojnarowski says that two others – Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons – have also made significant progress (Twitter links). According to Wojnarowski, Conley could get back on the court as soon as this weekend, which would be a surprisingly fast turnaround. When the veteran point guard went down with a back injury, reports indicated he would be re-evaluated in a month and would likely miss at least six weeks — that was just over two weeks ago.

Up until his injury, Conley had been one of the NBA’s most valuable players, so there were some questions about how the Grizzlies would perform without him. Since he went down, however, Memphis has played some of its best ball of the season, putting up a 7-2 record, with wins against the Warriors and Cavaliers. The team’s only two losses in that stretch came against Cleveland and Toronto, the two top teams in the East.

While Douglas didn’t play a ton during his time with the Grizzlies, he saw 17.8 minutes per game in six contests, averaging 5.8 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 2.7 RPG. Assuming he’s officially waived today, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent this weekend, while Memphis will carry a cap hit of just over $100K for him, per Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link).

Grizzlies Expect James Ennis Back Soon

Grizzlies forward James Ennis, who has been sidelined for three weeks by a Grade 2 right calf strain, should be ready to play in a few days, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Ennis was a participant in most of today’s practice and is showing substantial progress. His return may happen as soon as Friday’s game against the Kings, but seems more likely next week (Twitter link).

Memphis signed Ennis over the summer to a two-year, $6MM deal. He had started 13 games for the Grizzlies before suffering the injury last month and was averaging 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per night.

Southwest Notes: Finney-Smith, Randolph, Grizzlies

Dorian Finney-Smith‘s contract with the Mavericks called for the partial guarantee on his minimum salary to increase to $200K if he remained with the team beyond December 5, as our schedule of guarantee dates shows. There has been no word about that deadline changing, and Dallas’ decision-makers are “pretty high” on Finney-Smith, as Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes, so it’s probably safe to assume he received that increased guarantee. The young forward will have his full $543K salary guaranteed if he remains under contract through January 10.

Here’s more from around the NBA’s Southwest division:

  • Asked again about the possibility of trading veterans and looking ahead to next season, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the team would probably know its direction within a month or so, but he isn’t ready to discuss it yet, per Sefko. “What’s the point of addressing this now?” Cuban said. “We’ll know when we know and it won’t be a surprise. If we’re not winning games, it’ll be one thing. If we’re winning a bunch of games … we’ll have a different attitude. It just depends on the circumstance.”
  • Zach Randolph, who has missed the last seven games following the death of his mother, has returned to the Grizzlies and is expected to suit up for the team tonight against Philadelphia, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com.
  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal provided an injury update for a pair of Grizzlies players on Monday, tweeting that James Ennis and Chandler Parsons will be re-evaluated in a week to 10 days.
  • Check out our story from earlier today for the latest details on Donatas Motiejunas‘ situation with the Rockets.

Southwest Notes: Barnes, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets

The Mavericks don’t expect small forward Harrison Barnes to emerge as a superstar to replace Dirk Nowitzki but he’ll have a much bigger role with them than he did with the Warriors, Tim MacMahon of the Dallas Morning News reports. Barnes received a max four-year, $94MM contract this summer and will be featured much more offensively in Dallas, particularly with the free agent departure of Chandler Parsons. Coach Rick Carlisle told MacMahon that he met with Barnes about the outside expectations that come with signing a huge contract. “I talked to him this summer a lot about that,” Carlisle said. “The bottom line is it’s a challenge that he’s got to love taking on. The important thing is an elevation in responsibility comes at the right rate. You don’t just get a guy like this and throw him out there and tell him he’s got to score 20 a night. … We’ll get it to him in what I feel will be the correct doses and we’ll go from there.”
In other news around the Southwest Division:
  • The Spurs have waived big man Ryan Richards, according to the team’s website. They signed the 2010 second-round draft choice to a training camp contract earlier this month. He played with teams in Iran, Lebanon and Bahrain last season.
  • The Rockets have high expectations for center Clint Capela as Dwight Howard‘s replacement, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com writes. The team signed Nene Hilario to back up and mentor Capela, who is expected to move into the starting lineup, Watkins continues. GM Daryl Morey told Watkins that Capela must become an impact player. “Clint is someone for us, to have the season we want to have — to get home court in the Western Conference and to make a deep playoff run and hopefully to go deeper than we’ve ever been in my career — Clint is going to have to take a big step forward,” Morey said. “It’s not an easy step, from playing 15 to 20 minutes against … often, but not always, the starting center to playing 25-plus minutes against front-line guys.”
  • New Grizzlies coach David Fizdale has big plans for small forward James Ennis, Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Ennis was re-signed by the club this offseason on a two-year, $6MM contract and Fizdale sees him as a valuable rotation piece, Tillery continues. “He’s what today’s NBA is. He’s a Swiss Army knife,” Fizdale told Tillery. “He can guard a lot of different people. I’ve got him in a good place and he’s taking advantage of that.”

Grizzlies Sign James Ennis To Two-Year Deal

JULY 13TH, 4:58pm: The signing is official, the team announced via press release.

JULY 3RD, 1:10am: The Grizzlies have reached an agreement with free agent small forward James Ennis on a two-year, $6MM contract, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). It’ll be a fully guaranteed deal, according to Charania.

Ennis, who turned 26 on Friday, was eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but the Pelicans opted not to issue him a qualifying offer, despite his strong finish to the season. In nine games for New Orleans down the stretch, Ennis averaged 15.9 PPG, with an impressive .500/.480/.792 shooting line. He put up 29 and 28 points in his final two games of the year.

A second-round pick in 2013, Ennis made his NBA debut in 2014, and was a part-time player for the Heat in that 2014/15 season. His production in Miami, and in a 10-game stint in Memphis last season, was far more modest than those numbers he put up for the Pelicans.

The Pelicans, Mavericks, Clippers, Warriors, and Hawks were reportedly among the other teams to inquire on Ennis this week. But he’ll join the Grizzlies, who have already committed more than $250MM to Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons in free agency, as our tracker shows.

Free Agent Rumors: Howard, Lee, Waiters

Dwight Howard‘s meeting with the Hawks has concluded and a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Atlanta was “impressive.” Howard will still listen to the Celtics’ pitch, as well as speak with other teams, and a decision is expected to be made within the the next day.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Minnesota GM Scott Layden has reached out to Courtney Lee, but no offer has been made yet, Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com tweets. In addition to the Wolves, Lee has received interest from the Knicks, Kings, Nets and Hawks, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Kennedy adds that Atlanta’s interest in Lee is contingent on Kent Bazemore‘s decision to stay or leave in free agency.
  • Dion Waiters will have a face-to-face meeting with the Kings this weekend, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Pompey adds that the Sixers would like their own meeting with the shooting guard.
  • James Ennis has received calls from the Pelicans, Mavericks, Clippers, Warriors and Hawks, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link).
  • Nick Minnerath is receiving interest from the Nets, Lakers, Wizards, Pelicans and Mavericks, tweets international journalist David Pick.  Minnerath last played in the D-League for the Canton Charge.

Qualifying Offers: Sullinger, Daniels, Barnes

If an NBA team wishes to ensure a player who is eligible for restricted free agency actually becomes one, that team must issue a qualifying offer before the new league year begins on July 1st. Clubs are gradually making those qualifying-offer decisions official, with the latest round of offers noted below:

  • The Warriors submitted qualifying offers to Harrison Barnes ($5,194,227) and Festus Ezeli ($3,013,123), making both restricted free agents, the team announced via press release.
  • The Kings have submitted a qualifying offer for combo guard Seth Curry, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays (via Twitter). Curry’s offer is worth $1,215,696, with the 25-year-old having earned $947,276 for his 44 appearances this past season.
  • The Celtics submitted qualifying offers to frontcourt mates Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald tweets. Sullinger’s offer is worth $4,433,683, while Zeller’s comes in at $3,695,169.
  • The Hornets officially announced today that a qualifying offer worth $1,215,696 was submitted for shooting guard Troy Daniels, making him a restricted free agent.
  • The Raptors submitted a qualifying offer to Nando De Colo in order to retain his rights, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star tweets. De Colo isn’t likely headed stateside anytime soon, having signed a three-year contract extension with CSKA Moscow earlier this month. The cap hold for the 29-year-old is $1,901,900.
  • The Grizzlies submitted a qualifying offer to guard Nick Calathes, as the RealGM transactions log shows. The 27-year-old, who is under contract from the Greek club Panathinaikos, last played in the NBA during the 2014/15 campaign. The move by Memphis was merely a procedural one in order to retain Calathes’ rights.
  • The Nets have submitted a qualifying offer worth $1,180,431 to Markel Brown, making him a restricted free agent, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com tweets. Brooklyn declined to submit a qualifying offer worth $1,215,696 to Willie Reed, making him an unrestricted free agent, Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops tweets.
  • The Warriors declined to submit a qualifying offer worth $1,180,431 to James McAdoo and the player will now become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group tweets. The team also passed on submitting a qualifying offer worth $1,215,696 to Ian Clark, Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle tweets.
  • The Pelicans won’t tender a qualifying to James Ennis ($1,180,431), but remain interested in re-signing him if the price were reasonable, Scott Kushner of The Advocate tweets.
  • The Sixers declined to submit a qualifying offer to Isaiah Canaan ($1,215,696), making him an unrestricted free agent, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group tweets.

Pelicans Sign James Ennis For Season

SATURDAY, 3:33pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

MONDAY, 9:53am: The Pelicans are expected to sign James Ennis for the rest of the season after his 10-day contract expires, reports John Reid of The Times Picayune (Twitter link). That contract is up after Friday’s game against the Lakers. New Orleans is also reportedly poised to sign Jordan Hamilton until season’s end, with his 10-day deal having expired overnight. The moves will presumably come via the hardship provision, as the injury-racked Pelicans had 18 players, three above the regular season limit, until Hamilton’s 10-day ran out. The hardship prevents the team from tacking a non-guaranteed salary for next season onto the deal, so these will likely be true rest-of-season arrangements.

Ennis has played a prominent role for the Pelicans in three games so far, averaging 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.7 turnovers in 27.7 minutes per contest. Hot shooting has been a part of that, as he’s gone 8 for 15 from 3-point range. His 83 total minutes have already exceeded the 47 he saw between the Heat and Grizzlies earlier this season, though Memphis gave him extensive time with its D-League team. In any case, Ennis is showing some of the promise that made him the 50th overall pick in the 2013 draft, albeit in a small sample size.

The Pelicans have some exception money remaining, but presumably Ennis will receive the prorated minimum salary, which would give him $24,855. The rest-of-season deal will cover only three games, but it’ll have some lasting value for New Orleans, since it gives the team the chance to make him a restricted free agent and match offers for him this summer. The Pelicans would have to make him a qualifying offer worth $1,080,431 in order to do so.

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