James Ennis

James Ennis will decline his player option but could very well still return to Sixers

James Ennis will decline his player option but could very well still return to Sixers

James Ennis will decline his player option and become a free agent, his agent, Scott Nichols from Rize Management, confirmed Monday morning.

The news was first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. Ennis’ player option was for $1.85 million.

According to Nichols, Ennis is seeking a more lucrative, multi-year deal. Nichols said Ennis, after being acquired by the Sixers in February in a trade with the Houston Rockets, enjoyed his stint in Philadelphia, and it’s possible he could return to the Sixers. 

“He’s built good relationships within his short time there with his teammates like Ben [Simmons] and Joel [Embiid] and has found a quiet leadership role there, too,” Nichols told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Ennis talked at his exit interview last Monday about the close friendship he’s developed with Simmons, mentioning that Simmons talked him into getting a Cane Corso dog, the same type of dog Simmons has. 

Ennis boosted his stock during the postseason as a key member of the Sixers’ bench, averaging 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 11 playoff games. During the regular season, Ennis won the “tournament” for wing minutes off the bench in a landslide, beating out Jonathon Simmons and Furkan Kokrmaz.

“It was tough at first because it was unsure if I was going to play,” Ennis said. “Me and Jonathon were play one game, sit one game, so it was kind of rocky at first. But I got more games under my belt, got more comfortable, and it just took off like that. I appreciate the staff believing in me, Elton Brand bringing me here and Coach [Brett] Brown allowing me to play.”

At 28 years old, Ennis has already played for six teams. The Sixers, if they’re willing to offer a deal that Ennis and Nichols like, may offer the stability that’s been lacking during his career.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers' bench is outplaying Raptors' in first three games of playoff series, defying conventional wisdom

Sixers' bench is outplaying Raptors' in first three games of playoff series, defying conventional wisdom

Heading into the Sixers’ second-round series against the Raptors, the conventional wisdom seemed to be that the Sixers had the more talented starting five but Toronto had the better bench.

The conventional wisdom, through the series’ first three games, has been very wrong.

The Sixers’ bench outplayed the Raptors’ yet again Thursday night in a 116-95 win (see observations). A unit mostly cobbled together by general manager Elton Brand during the season has outscored Toronto’s bench 73-30 in the series. 

For Games 1 and 2, the Sixers’ bench was missing Mike Scott, who was sidelined with a right heel contusion and plantar fasciitis. Scott, initially overlooked because of Tobias Harris’ star power and overshadowed by Boban Marjanovic because Marjanvoic overshadows everybody, has become a key piece of the Sixers’ identity. He’s already sipped a beverage in the stands, made a game-winning three-pointer in a playoff game and inspired tattoos in 33 total games with the team.

Scott gave himself a “C” for his first game back after scoring five points in 14 minutes and said he felt a “little sore.”

“It just felt good to be out there with my teammates,” he said. “S---, we won. That’s all that matters.”

Jimmy Butler couldn’t have spoken much more highly of Scott Thursday night. 

I love Mike Mike. You see the handshake we do any and all times of the game. He's a great guy to have around. Super tough — like a guy that you want in your corner. Not scared to take or make big shots. He can guard whoever you tell him to guard and more than anything, he's always got a positive vibe, a positive energy that he's giving off every single day. Even whenever he's not playing, and that's the hardest thing to do. He's a real one, I'll tell you that. 

James Ennis, meanwhile, has gone from a contender in the much-discussed “tournament” for wing minutes off the bench when he first arrived to the best bench player in this series by a wide margin. Following his 10-point night, Ennis has 34 points on 12 for 21 shooting against the Raptors. Toronto’s bench players have combined for 30 points on 12 for 50 shooting. 

Greg Monroe has gone this season from Toronto to Brooklyn to out of a job after being waived by the Nets without playing a game to Boston to an apparent insurance option for the Sixers to Joel Embiid’s primary backup vs. the Raptors. He played Thursday after spraining his left ankle in Game 2 and again gave the Sixers solid minutes — although he did catch some flack from Butler in the locker room about missing a wide-open layup in garbage time.

Though athleticism and springiness are certainly not Monroe’s strong suits, his dependable play in Games 2 and 3 meant Brett Brown could give Embiid and his left knee a little time off. Embiid posted his 33-point, 10-rebound, five-block performance in just 28 minutes and got to relax on the bench in the second half of the fourth quarter. 

“To have the boost that you learn before the game to have Mike Scott back and Greg,” Brown said. “And James really has been uniquely special and required, especially in the absence of Mike where I can shove Tobias maybe more to a four, there are wing minutes to be had. I think our bench has been good. … I think that bench has come in and given us a spark and continued on with sort of the defensive efforts that we're trying to put out.” 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

One way Sixers may be able to slow down Kawhi Leonard in playoffs

One way Sixers may be able to slow down Kawhi Leonard in playoffs

TORONTO — When you lose Game 1 of a series, the word “adjustments” comes up an awful lot afterward.

After the Sixers’ loss Saturday night, “adjustments” was uttered by everyone that spoke. It was again the theme at practice on Sunday afternoon.

The biggest one, of course, is slowing down the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. The two combined for 74 of the Raptors’ 108 points, shooting 28 of 38 (74 percent) in Game 1.

The Sixers started out with Jimmy Butler guarding Leonard, but we also saw a little bit of Tobias Harris and James Ennis on the three-time All-Star. None of them were effective, as Leonard went 12 of 13 from the field against that trio.

The one player that was actually successful was Ben Simmons. Simmons didn’t shut Leonard down, but held him to 4 of 9, including two missed threes. It seemed like Simmons’ length bothered Leonard a little bit as Leonard actually airballed his first shot attempt with Simmons on him.

Still, Brown has said all along he’s going to show Leonard a variety of looks and it sounds like he plans to stick with that game plan.

“You want to avoid a steady diet of a similar look,” Brown said. “These guys are that good that if you can maybe keep people guessing and a little more off balance, maybe that’s where the adjustments have their most effectiveness.”

While that type of performance will happen with a guy like Leonard, the emergence of Siakam as Toronto’s No. 2 option has been a scary development for the Sixers. Siakam is known for his speed in rushing down the floor in transition, but his game is becoming more diverse.

He was at 37 percent from three during the regular season, a number that has grown to 42 percent during the postseason. He also killed the Sixers on dribble drives, finishing with his great length and athleticism.

If “adjustments” was the big word, “showing them a crowd” was the big phrase. The team kept repeating that refrain in reference to both players.

The Sixers feel good about the changes they’ve made in their game plan for Game 2.

“I think really locking down on Kawhi and Siakam [is the biggest adjustment],” Simmons said. “Two guys that obviously had great games against us [Saturday], but we’re confident going into the next game.”

Will we see more of Simmons on Leonard Monday night?

“Yeah, probably,” Simmons said.

While Brown continues to harp on mixing things up on Leonard, it seems like he’s open to changes.

“Adjustments rule the day,” Brown said. “I can tell you that I wake up feeling good to go. I really feel like we can just come and be better than we were than the first game.”

They better be.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers