This weekend, it was announced that instead of beginning the season by hoping to help the Heat repeat as NBA champions, 2013 second round draft choice James Ennis will hit the hardwood in Australia.
As more info regarding Ennis' decision to join the Perth Wildcats becomes available, so does the reasoning behind it. According to a most recent report, evidently the low pay in the NBA D-League came into play as somewhat of a main factor.
Fresh off forming a single one-to-one NBADL affiliation with the Sioux Falls Skyforce earlier this summer, the Heat were hoping Ennis would start off his professional career in the D-League. Alas, an early season assignment was not what they had in mind.
Instead, Miami wanted to forgo signing the swingman to a rookie NBA contract. They expressed interest in having him sign a minor league contract and don a Skyforce uniform, while having the opportunity to work closely with Heat affiliated officials.
As nice as that sounds, such an opportunity would only net Ennis as much as $25,000. The NBA minimum stands at $490,180. Of course, the young gun's salary abroad will be somewhere in between.
Ennis' decision to play overseas doesn't have much to do with minutes. As a second round rookie, playing time would seemingly be difficult to come by from most teams in the NBA. Treating a freshman campaign solely as a chance to learn and take note from experienced players, who better to learn from than the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? The opportunity to play for the Heat would have been grabbed by the horns by the swingman.
But that chance is just not in the cards at this point in time. Ennis will venture overseas, perhaps experience a bit of international stardom, but also more importantly, step into a much better situation financially right off the bat. Such a first contract will help the Long Beach State alum begin supporting his family.
Serving as a starter for Miami throughout NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Ennis looked very good. He's very athletic, can shoot the three ball, and didn't seem to have a problem keeping up with any single opponent on defense. He may be raw, but Ennis, nevertheless, showed flashes of everything a team could want from a swingman. He averaged 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and shot 43% from deep in Vegas.
Though he ultimately chose to begin his professional journey in Australia, the Heat will still go on to retain his NBA rights. No harm there, as Ennis may arguably make more progress overseas than he would sitting on the Heat bench in Miami this season. Time will tell.
Even so, Ennis' decision to be a Wildcat should undoubtedly be a blow to the NBA D-League. The low pay the NBADL awards its prospects annually continues to be the achilles heel for a league that is otherwise continuously on the rise with other great positives, pros, and benefits to offer both big league teams and aspiring NBA players alike.