James Ennis

James Ennis III writes goodbye message thanking Sixers fans

James Ennis III writes goodbye message thanking Sixers fans

Thursday's trade deadline saw James Ennis III shipped out to Orlando for a second-round draft pick. 

While he's been buried on Brett Brown's bench for much of 2020, it still feels like a surprising turn of events considering Ennis's commitment to the Sixers this past offseason.

Ennis, a consumate pro, posted a farewell message to Sixers fans on his Instagram in the hours after the deal, thanking the city and the team for the support during his 67 games in Philly:

The Sixers, of course, acquired Ennis nearly one year ago today in a trade deadline move with the Rockets.

Ennis signed a two-year deal with the Sixers this past offseason, with a player option in Year 2.

The Magic will be Ennis's seventh team during his 10-year career, so while he made it clear that he wanted to run it back this season, it also makes sense that he's taking the trade in stride. 

Ennis averaged 5.7 points per game during his time with the Sixers, shooting 43.4% from the field, 33.8% from deep, and 76.2% from the free throw line.

More on the Sixers

Elton Brand won't be defined by his approach to this NBA trade deadline

Elton Brand won't be defined by his approach to this NBA trade deadline

Last February, the Sixers were the talk of the NBA after their early-morning trade for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. They made a few splashes this summer, too, signing Al Horford, sending Jimmy Butler to Miami, bringing in Josh Richardson and letting JJ Redick leave. 

This trade deadline was never going to be nearly as chaotic or impactful.

A year into Harris’ tenure in Philadelphia, general manager Elton Brand’s decision to give up as much as he did for Harris, Scott and Marjanovic does not look great. As a reminder, the Clippers picked up the Sixers’ lottery protected 2020 first-round pick, the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder, Detroit’s 2021 and 2023 second-rounders, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and the promising Landry Shamet. The decision to double down on that original bet and sign Harris to a five-year, $180 contract in July has had lukewarm early returns. 

Brand chose to sign the 33-year-old Horford to a lucrative four-year deal and construct a massive team reliant on its defense and hopeful that weaknesses with outside shooting and shot creation wouldn’t be exposed. He has been audacious as a general manager, and as a result placed himself and the Sixers in a challenging position.

He entered Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline with limitations of his own doing. Harris and Horford are being paid more than they’re worth, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are too young and too talented to abandon, Matisse Thybulle is a defensive gem the team should value, and the Sixers’ asset stash is unimpressive after all of Brand’s dealing. Mike Scott is a proven veteran and Zhaire Smith is a 20-year-old former first-round pick, but it appears improbable those two could have assisted Brand in swinging a major move. 

In that context, Brand came away with a decent haul. Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III directly address areas where the team needed help. We’ll have to see if Robinson’s career year carries over to Philadelphia, and if Burks’ streaky tendencies are problematic on a team far more competitive than the 12-40 Warriors. Still, the two have the skills to help the Sixers’ bench, and to lessen the responsibilities on young players like Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton. 

Brand spent three second-round picks to acquire Burks and Robinson, none of which are projected to be high second-rounders. Given the Sixers’ urgency to contend and the frustration around a team that’s been brutal on the road, those were reasonable assets to trade. In fact, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Brand had felt obliged to overpay out of desperation.

The Sixers also received one second-round pick Thursday as a return from the Magic for James Ennis (see story). Ennis, who waived his no-trade clause, had a curious path this season. His role diminished in mid-January because, according to head coach Brett Brown, the Sixers wanted to develop Thybulle with the goal of the rookie being equipped to handle meaningful playoff minutes. Though he was below average as a three-point shooter during his time with the Sixers (33.8 percent), Ennis was a passable, multi-position defender and strong offensive rebounder. He wasn’t playing much, though, and Brand must have figured it was best to get a draft pick for a player who’d been deemed non-essential and had a player option for 2020-21. 

Waiving Trey Burke is another move on the margins open to scrutiny. At his best, the popular point guard can change games with his scoring. We didn’t see much of that ability in Philadelphia as Burke only played in 25 regular-season games. Like with Ennis, it appears Brown picked other options over Burke, specifically Raul Neto. Though they subtracted Burke, the Sixers did add a player in Burks who’s a capable initiator. 

None of these moves are likely to be of tremendous importance, though Brand will hope Burks and Robinson can make a difference in the playoffs. Ultimately, Brand took a little, gave a little and adopted a sensible, low-risk approach. His tenure as GM won’t be defined by these decisions. 

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 trade James Ennis to Magic for 2nd-round pick

Sixers trade James Ennis to Magic for 2nd-round pick

James Ennis has been traded from the Sixers to the Magic in exchange for the Lakers' second-round pick, team sources confirmed Thursday afternoon to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade.

The 29-year-old waived his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal.

Ennis' agent, Scott Nichols of Rize Management, told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Ennis wanted to stay in Philadelphia and "loved the organization," but that he didn't see a role for himself with the team's recent moves. The Sixers’ additions early Thursday morning of wings Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III boosted the team’s depth at the position. 

A team source noted to NBC Sports Philadelphia that the Sixers decided to move Ennis to give him a chance at a bigger role on another team, given he would not have played much with the Sixers in the context of the trade for Burks and Robinson, and the emergence of young players like Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton.

The team acquired Ennis last February from the Houston Rockets. They got him for a bargain price, only giving up the right to swap second-round picks in 2021.

Ennis won the “quiet tournament” for wing minutes off the Sixers’ bench in the second half of last season and was part of the team’s playoff rotation. He was a key piece early this year, too, after re-signing with the Sixers in free agency despite higher offers being on the table because of his desire to win a championship with the Sixers. Ennis is on a two-year, veteran minimum deal, with a player option for next season. 

Head coach Brett Brown didn’t play a healthy Ennis on Jan. 13 against the Pacers, a decision he said was mostly motivated by wanting to increase Thybulle’s role. In the 10 games since, Ennis only averaged 8.8 minutes.

Ennis played a total of 67 regular-season games with the Sixers, posting 5.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. 

More on the Sixers