Houston lost two key wing players in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute this offseason. On Wednesday, they made one move in an attempt to try to fill those vacated spots.
The Rockets signed 28-year old forward James Ennis, a 6-foot-7 wing who played with the Detroit Pistons last season. After balking at the $15 million Ariza got and the $4.2 million that Mbah a Moute received, the Rockets pick up Ennis for less than $2 million a year with a player option for 2019-20.
Ennis, the 50th overall pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft, will be entering his fifth NBA season out of Long Beach State. In 220 career games, he’s averaging 6.4 points on 45.4% shooting (35.9% 3P), 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 20.4 minutes per. He’s a career 81.1% from the free throw line.
Ennis is not an elite defensive player but he’s pretty good. He doesn’t have the 7-foot plus wingspan of an Ariza or Mbah a Moute, but at 6-foot-11 1/2, it’s not too far off. Can he fit in to a team defense concept that switches regularly? I think so. He played under Rockets assistant coach (and defensive guru) Jeff Bzdelik with Memphis so some of these concepts won’t be unfamiliar to him.
Ennis hasn’t been anything great yet but the Rockets likely see value here that isn’t yet recognized league-wide. Playing with James Harden and Chris Paul might bring out more in Ennis than he has shown elsewhere. His three-point shooting, free-throw shooting and defense suggest this could be a good low-risk, high-reward move by Daryl Morey.