The string of bad luck for the 2019 Houston Rockets began on July 1st, 2018. After four successful seasons playing with the Rockets, Trevor Ariza decided to move on and signed a one-year $15 million contract with the Phoenix Suns. Ariza’s departure instantly left Houston without a 3-and-D player at the small forward position.
So much so, just about every player Daryl Morey signed moving forward were in hopes of replacing the talents of Ariza. Morey’s first attempt at a replacement came in a two-year, $3.4 million contract to sign James Ennis III.
At first glimpse, Ennis seemed to be the perfect replacement for Ariza. With a solid career shooting percentage of 35.7 percent from deep, Ennis was establishing himself as a reliable 3-and-D player. Unfortunately, his short stint in Houston would go down as one of many failures for the Rockets this season.
Despite his disappointments, Ennis’ on-court production was fairly stable. In 40 games with the Rockets, Ennis averaged 7.4 points on 49.3 percent shooting from the field. In addition to his offensive play, Ennis gave Houston a firm perimeter defender, recording 1.0 steals per game.
During the Rockets’ early-season victory over the Golden State Warriors, Ennis recorded a season-high 19 points and 5 rebounds in the win. He also came up huge for Houston in their 138-134 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, where Ennis recorded 18 points while shooting 4-for-6 from behind the arc.
Overall, Ennis wasn’t a bad fit in Houston and at one time even looked as if he was the best player signed during the Rockets subpar free agency period (which admittedly, isn’t saying much). However, injuries derailed any chance of Ennis becoming Houston’s next 3-and-D forward.
A hamstring strain caused him to miss a total of 13 games, which led to Ennis falling out of the Rockets’ rotation due to the emergence of Danuel House and a healthy Gerald Green. His career with the Rockets came to an end at the NBA Trading Deadline, after Ennis was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in an attempt to get Houston under the luxury tax line.
While the loss of James Ennis did not have any negative repercussions throughout the remainder of the season, his departure marked one of many personnel failures for the 2018-2019 Houston Rockets.