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After losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, the Houston Rockets needed to add a versatile 3-and-D wing defender. The Rockets believe they found that in James Ennis, who signed a two-year contract with Houston on Wednesday, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. The deal includes a player option for the second season.
Ennis will be tasked with replacing some of the length and athleticism the Rockets lost from the departures of Ariza and Mbah a Moute. Ennis, a 6-foot-7 forward, appeared in 45 games for the Memphis Grizzlies last season before being shipped mid-season to the Detroit Pistons—where he played in 27 contests. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.1 rebounds last season.
Houston will rely on Ennis to knock down three-pointers, as Ariza did in past seasons. Ennis shot 33.3 percent from 3-point range in 22.3 minutes per game last year.
In hot pursuit of Carmelo Anthony in anticipation of the 10-time All-Star’s release from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ennis could be delegated to the bench in Houston. If so, Ennis would serve in a reserve role similar to Mbah a Moute did last season—but Houston believes Ennis is an even better fit because of his superior speed and his potential to become a catch-and-shoot threat from behind the arc.
Yahoo Sports reports that Ennis will compete for a starting job in Houston. However, if Anthony signs with the Rockets—as most pundits have speculated—it’s tough to envision Ennis receiving the starting nod, even if he is better fit with Houston, as Anthony has made it clear he refuses to come off the bench.