Tyler Ennis received a stay of execution when, after an initial report to the contrary, the Rockets kept him into the regular season.
But Houston will let the point guard hit free agency soon enough.
The Rockets are declining Ennis’ $2,666,707 team option for 2017-18.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Ennis will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. The Rockets can pay him a starting salary up to just $2,666,707. Other teams can offer any amount up to the max.
Clearly, Ennis is unlikely long for Houston.
In the meantime, Ennis is playing regularly but limitedly behind James Harden. Ennis will likely fall from the rotation once Patrick Beverley returns from injury.
The No. 18 pick in 2014, Ennis hasn’t shown much in the NBA. But he’s just 22, and there’s a chance he develops into a $2.7 million player – a relatively low salary in the new NBA landscape.
Dropping Ennis might be the difference between the Rockets having cap space or being limited to the mid-level exception next summer. So, I see why they declined the option.
But the upside of exercising the option would’ve been so high – a young player on a cheap deal for an extra year, which could’ve been followed by restricted free agency.
The Solomon Hill case must be noted. The Pacers declined his $2,306,019 2016-17 team option last fall. This summer, he signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Pelicans.
Is Ennis likely to follow that path? No. But with rookie-scale salaries so low relative to the cap, the odds needn’t be high to justify a swing on Ennis’ team option.
That the Rockets still declined suggests they believe that little in his development – or that they’re squandering a potential asset.