With Clippers dropping like flies due to COVID-19 and various injuries, it was only going to be a matter of time before they used the hardship deals offered by the NBA outside of bringing up Moses Wright as a reserve center. Just now, Shams Charania of the Athletic said that the Clippers will sign veteran wing James Ennis to a 10 day hardship deal.
The 31-year-old Ennis is in his 8th season, and has played for eight teams in that span, most recently the Brooklyn Nets (he actually briefly checked in against the Clippers yesterday). In 47 games with the Magic last year (37 starts), Ennis averaged 8.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.8 steals in 24 minutes per game while shooting 43.3% from three on 2.5 attempts per contest.
Ennis is a career 36% three point shooter (albeit on low-ish volume), so he’s somewhat of a threat from out there. More importantly, at 6’6 and 215 pounds, he provides tough and physical defense for larger guards and wings, differentiating him from guards like Eric Bledsoe and bigger forwards such as Nic Batum and Marcus Morris. A low-grade 3 and D wing who can cut and rebound, it’s actually surprising Ennis hasn’t been signed before this.
While Ennis doesn’t provide shot creation or much offense for a Clippers team that needs it, he’s a much steadier option on the wing than Keon Johnson or Justise Winslow, offering more shooting than either. For as long as the Clippers are down as many guys as they are right now, Ennis should have a spot in the rotation off the bench getting 10-15 minutes per game or so.
If James Ennis is good enough in this trial run, it’s possible he sticks around longer, though the Clippers would have to clear a roster spot and that would be tough for them. Still, in this hectic season, having competent depth is valuable, and the Clippers have been shallow on the wing even when healthy.
Hopefully James Ennis at the very least helps just provide some usable minutes to help the Clippers get through this rough stretch.