4:18pm: The Rockets have changed their mind and will keep Ennis and are waiving veteran Pablo Prigioni instead, Charania tweets. As a result, Houston will be on the hook for Prigioni’s fully guaranteed contract for 2016/17 worth $1,050,961, unless the player is claimed off waivers by another club.
1:51pm: Having waived three players earlier today, the Rockets need to make one more cut to get down to 15 players, and it looks like the team might make a surprising move. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter), Houston plans to release Tyler Ennis. Charania cautions that the two sides could end up negotiating a new deal if and when Ennis clears waivers.
The 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ennis was sent from Phoenix to Milwaukee at the 2015 trade deadline, then arrived in Houston last month when the Rockets acquired him in exchange for Michael Beasley. In 71 games for the Bucks, Ennis averaged just 4.1 PPG and 2.1 APG in 13.5 minutes per contest. The 22-year-old is owed a guaranteed $1.734MM salary for 2016/17.
Considering Ennis was on a guaranteed salary for 2016/17, waiving him in order to sign him to a new deal would be an unusual move for Houston. However, if they keep him, the Rockets would need to decide within a week whether or not to exercise Ennis’ $2.667MM option for 2017/18. Signing the former Buck to a new two-year, minimum-salary deal could make him more affordable for next year, even if the Rockets would be paying him more this year.
We’ll wait to see what the Rockets have planned, but if Ennis is cut and isn’t immediately re-signed, it may open the door for both Kyle Wiltjer and Bobby Brown to make the team’s 15-man roster. Before waiving Ennis, Houston’s roster count sits at 16.