James Ennis is one of the best remaining free agents available in the NBA. With teams looking to fill their final roster spots, Ennis has been linked to several franchises in recent weeks. Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have moved on from Marc Gasol, rumors of Ennis signing with his hometown team have resurfaced. But the Lakers aren’t the only good fit for the sharpshooting wingman.
Likely Landing Spots For James Ennis Signing
James Ennis Player Profile
A 12-year veteran, Ennis has made his way in the league as a three-and-D forward. The former 50th overall pick shot a career-high 43% from beyond the arc last season with the Orlando Magic. While he isn’t a lockdown defender, Ennis has proven to be solid on the perimeter. His long wingspan allows him to consistently contest opponents’ shots, but he isn’t a polished shot-blocker by any means. Rounding out his game, Ennis has a nice mid-range fadeaway jumper and is a career 80% free throw shooter. He’s not an excellent ball-handler but is capable of bringing the ball up and facilitating the offense. Ennis has also averaged three rebounds and one assist per game in his career.
At this point in the NBA offseason, Ennis will likely be signing on for the veteran’s minimum. The Cal State Long Beach alum made the most of his extended playing time with the Magic. However, if Ennis is willing to accept a smaller role once again, he could be a valuable rotation player on a championship contender this season. Orlando has filled their roster as of now, so it looks like the small forward will be joining his eighth team for the 2021-22 season.
Los Angeles Clippers
The improved play of Terance Mann gives the Clippers a third wingman option when at full strength. Normally, this would make adding Ennis redundant but it’s looking more and more like Kawhi Leonard’s recovery from his partially torn ACL could keep him out for the entire 2021-22 season. If that’s the case, Ennis could provide some much-needed depth for the upcoming year. Ennis has been rumored to be in favor of a return to his Californian roots. However, the Clippers aren’t the only team in town that could use his help.
The Chicago Bulls have been one of the biggest movers in the 2021 offseason. The additions of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have shored up the backcourt for Chicago. DeMar DeRozan will be the starter at small forward (unless they decide to put him in the four spot) but the Bulls have little depth at the position after him. Chicago may not be a title contender, but they have a real shot at doing damage in the Eastern Conference Playoffs next season. Of all the teams in this discussion, Chicago seems to offer Ennis the best path to serious playing time.
Portland Trail Blazers
Besides Chicago, the Portland Trail Blazers might be the team that needs Ennis’s services the most. The Blazers also lack depth at this position and are desperate for help on the defensive end. Portland has hopes that a full season with Norman Powell will help them to improve upon last year’s defense, which was second-worst in the league. Ennis can not only help in that regard but his long and mid-range shooting could help to make up for the loss of Carmelo Anthony. This would be a good fit for both parties, but Portland has other options if this doesn’t pan out. Robert Covington used to play the position and with the addition of Larry Nance Jr., the Blazers may be able to move Covington back to that spot when needed.
Los Angeles Lakers
If rumors are true, the Lakers are the clear frontrunner here. They now have the room to add Ennis if needed. On top of that, Los Angeles is already in the luxury tax, so they are limited to veteran minimum offers. Ennis’s playstyle is a perfect fit to play alongside LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. With his smooth stroke and love for the corner three, he’ll mesh well with what this team looks for on offense. Additionally, the Lakers have James listed as their only small forward. Ennis can add depth there as well.
About a month ago, fans took notice of some telling activity on Ennis’s Twitter account. The 6’6” forward was liking tweets suggesting that he join the Lakers. The 31-year-old California native has been well-traveled in his career and is apparently looking to return home.
James Ennis Signing Soon
While Ennis has time to make a decision, training camp starts on September 28th. With that in mind, he will likely sign with a team soon. Ennis had career highs in points (8.4), minutes (24), and rebounds (4.3) per game last season.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images