Can the Miami Heat find a better prospect than James Ennis for their 15th and final roster spot? As training camp and pre-season games begin the Heat have Keith Benson, Greg Whittington, John Lucas III, Tre Kelley, Corey Hawkins on hand as possible contenders. Of the six choices, only one can make the final cut.
Not only does Erik Spoelstra have to decide which one to pick, he will give thought to which position needs an extra reserve: is it a center (Benson), forward (Whittington) or guard (Lucas, Kelley, Hawkins)? He indicated during his informal media conference, "The team will ultimately tell us," about who will be on the squad.
The Problem With James Ennis
During his rookie season in the Australian league, Ennis averaged 21 PTS, 7 REB and 2 AST per game and finished third in the MVP voting. After a very promising beginning stateside in 2014, Ennis' deficiency in ball-handling became a problem later on in 2015. While athletic and tenacious on defense, his lack of being able to dribble the ball down the court was a liability.
A sub-par performance in Summer League further hurt his chances of getting a guaranteed contract with the Heat. Knowing that, Ennis through dedication and hard work, may yet regain the form and numbers he displayed in Australia.
Waiver wire is becoming active
With the NBA season only a month away, teams are beginning to trim their rosters via waivers. Once a player clears them he becomes a free agent and is eligible to be signed by any team interested in obtaining his services.
Waiving a player doesn't release the team's obligation to make good on a player's guaranteed contract and counts towards the cap space. If the Heat released Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen or even Udonis Haslem, they would still take a cap space hit, unless the player was signed by another team.
Looking outside the present training camp roster, the Heat could snatch up a bargain or two via waivers, but only if one or more non-guaranteed "bodies" were released. Let's see what two possible candidates from other teams could bring to the table.
Two players deserve consideration
Anthony Bennett is a highly-publicized number one draft pick bust with not one, but two teams. A Grantland article articulates his shortcomings very well. Ever the optimist, viewing his highlight video shows his cutting and shooting promise:
He has officially signed with the Toronto Raptors, so his name is off everyone's shopping list.
The other prospect is Kostas Papanikolaou, who was waived by the Houston Rockets. Seldom used by them, he shows solid ball-handling skills and 3-point potential:
Plus this crafty score against Anthony Davis:
His statistics in the NBA were underwhelming to say the least. However he demonstrated a solid 3-point game in Europe where he shot 52% from 3-point range in one season and 42% over multiple seasons. The Denver Nuggets felt he was not worth keeping for $5 million, but he could be a bargain at a minimum salary.
Other waiver wire items
Gerald Wallace (Philadelphia 76ers), Patrick Christopher (Memphis Grizzlies), Remi Yusuf (Houston Rockets), Mike Miller (Portland Trail Blazers) were released to join other ex-NBA free agents such as Carlos Boozer, Ray Allen and Michael Beasley on the market. Expect more players to become available shortly as the NBA season tip-off is only a month away.
The Heat have fourteen players under guaranteed contracts, so only one spot is open. That may change if they trade or release a player under contract. The Miami Heat will be cautious making roster changes during training camp because of the camaraderie the team has developed over the summer. Trusting and relying on teammates during the season is the x-factor in winning championships, and is not easily earned.