Thursday, June 1, 2023

Lakers, Bulls, Blazers interested in free-agent wing James Ennis, per report

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Most of the NBA’s best free agents found new teams earlier in the offseason. With the annual free agency frenzy now more than a month in the books, the few free agents left capable of contributing to winning teams are suddenly at a premium as would-be contenders seek to fill out the final spots in their roster. One such hot commodity is former Orlando Magic wing James Ennis. The Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers are interested in Ennis, while the Magic would also like to bring him back, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype

Ennis is the rare wing who can contribute on both ends of the floor. He is a solid perimeter defender at 6-foot-7, and over the past five seasons, he has shot a roughly league-average 35.7 percent from behind the arc. He is inconsistent, though, and that has forced him to play for seven NBA teams thus far in his career. 

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Ennis has hinted through social media that his preference is the Lakers. He has liked a number of Twitter posts linking him to Los Angeles, and he grew up in nearby Ventura, California. The Lakers are expected to enter the season with only 14 of their 15 roster spots filled to both save luxury tax money and save a spot for any buyout additions. Once DeAndre Jordan signs, the Lakers will have 14 players, but his additions brings Marc Gasol’s future into question. Reports have suggested that he may not be a lock to return to Los Angeles this season, and if he doesn’t, that might open up the roster spot the Lakers need to sign Ennis. 

The Bulls and Blazers both lack wing depth, and Ennis would be a strong fit for either. Chicago in particular doesn’t have a pure small forward on its roster, so Ennis could work his way into a meaningful role there. Portland had the NBA‘s second-worst defense last season, so the addition of any playable defensive wing would be welcomed. 

At this stage of the offseason, Ennis is likely to earn only the minimum. The Lakers and Blazers are in the luxury tax already, so saving money will be a goal for them. Orlando has now filled its 15th roster spot with its signing of E’Twaun Moore, so it seems likely at this point that he will land with a new team. 

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