February 6, 2020, 9:01 pm
The Magic made a minor move on Thursday, acquiring James Ennis from the Sixers for a second-round pick before the deadline buzzer sounded.
The move doesn’t figure to have huge consequences, though it would be shocking if the second-round pick was on of consequence considering Philadelphia needed to unload Ennis in order to make space for their own deadline pickups, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson.
Ennis had fallen out of favor in Philly, averaging 15.8 minutes per game on the season but slipping to a shade over 10 since the beginning of January. The career .356 3-point shooter is hitting his treys at a .349 rate this year – respectable but hardly a threat that forces defenses to change their tactics. At 6’6” and 210 pounds, he’ll give the Magic another depth piece to absorb some minutes at the forward spots. He’ll be competing with the likes of Aaron Gordon, Wesley Iwundu and Khem Birch, primarily, and while he offers more utility in certain matchups than Birch, it’s safe to say that Ennis has the lowest (i.e., nonexistent) upside of the bunch.
Low upside won’t preclude him from carving out a healthy role, however, as Ennis is definitely capable of outplaying Iwundu and Birch given his higher floor as a shooter.
There’s a certain degree of dependability there, and that may come in handy as Orlando tries to stave off Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s been a letdown season for the Magic after a strong surge down the stretch last year, and the injury to Jonathan Isaac basically eliminated any real expectations for the team this time around.
Ennis does have a player option worth $2.1 million for next season, though he may decline it to seek more playing time – next year his path to minutes in Orlando will be blocked by not only Isaac but also Al-Farouq Aminu, who is recovering from a torn meniscus.
To make room for Ennis, the Magic waived forward Amile Jefferson. He has appeared in 30 games across two seasons with Orlando and has averaged 18.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks while shooting 60.8 percent from the field in 84 G League contests.
The decision likely came down to Jefferson or current 10-day contract player Gary Clark, which portends well for Clark’s near-term future with the Magic.
Ennis is unlikely to move the needle for Orlando, but the Magic didn’t give up much to get him and still may have gotten an upgrade on their current placeholder starters.