The Miami Heat wanted James Ennis to play in the D-League. But he has his family to worry about.
Ennis, taken with the No. 50 pick by Atlanta in June’s draft and then traded to Miami, will play next season for the Perth Wildcats in Australia. But Ennis said Sunday that wasn’t the Heat’s preference.
The Heat wanted the swingman not come to training camp, and hopefully join the D-League’s Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce. The Heat recently entered into a sole-affiliation agreement with the team, so that would have enabled them to look after Ennis closely with coaches they control while retaining his rights.
But through an odd twist in D-League player acquisition rules, there was no guarantee that Ennis would have been eligible to play for the Skyforce. Most D-League newcomers are required to go through the D-League draft, where they can be selected by any D-League team. While the Heat could still have monitored him, they would have had no influence over such things as playing time, position, or areas of focus for development.
There are exceptions in certain circumstances.
Players with N.B.A. contracts who are waived during summer league, if they first signs a standard D-League contract, can be directed to a team’s D-League affiliate utilizing the new affiliate player rules. However, this was not a viable option for the Heat because it would have required the team to relinquish his exclusive draft rights.
Players with N.B.A. contracts who are retained during the regular season can be assigned directly to the team’s D-League affiliate. But the Heat didn’t want Ennis to be in the D-League while making an N.B.A. minimum salary of $490,180, which would have counted against their maximum 15-player roster and led to them to pay additional luxury tax.
Ennis wasn’t interested in playing the D-League anyway, as such players don’t make more than $25,000 for a season unless they are on an N.B.A. contract. He will make much more money in Australia. His agent, Scott Nichols wouldn’t give precise figures, but said his client’s deal with the Wildcats is worth “six figures.”
“They wanted me to go the D-League,” Ennis said. “I basically put my family first. My family is struggling (financially), and I want to help support them. So that’s why I’m going (to Australia).” Read more…