The Heat will search for fresh young talent worth developing when it begins summer league play Sunday against Utah in Orlando (1 p.m., NBATV). And among 23 players set to suit up for the Heat in either Orlando or Las Vegas or both, forward James Ennis and point guard Myck Kabongo bear careful monitoring.
Kabongo, who went undrafted, was considered a possible first-round pick out of Texas before a 23-game NCAA suspension last season.
Ennis, selected 50th by Atlanta and traded to the Heat on draft night, “jumped off the screen with his athleticism and length” when the Heat watched his film, coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “He’s got very good potential in three-point shooting, especially from the corners.”
Ennis, 6-7, averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks at Long Beach State last season but struggled with his floor game (99 turnovers, 70 assists). Ennis, who had no idea the Heat was interested in him before the draft-night trade, said he is best suited to play small forward but also can play shooting guard.
Ennis said he needs to “work on ball-handling and getting my shot off faster.” Center Jarvis Varnado, the only Heat veteran participating in the summer league, said Ennis “is going to be a good player. Coach likes the long, wiry guys. He defends, he’s a slasher, gets into the lane.”
Meanwhile, Spoelstra said the 6-1 Kabongo “has big upside. Our organization has a history of uncovering guys that needed the right fit.”
He impressed as a freshman (9.6 points, 5.2 assists) but began his sophomore season on suspension after the NCAA ruled he accepted personal training instruction from Jerry Powell, a trainer for Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James and now Kabongo, among others.
The NCAA also punished Kabongo for accepting airfare from Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson to attend that workout and said Kabongo provided “false and misleading information” during two interviews with university officials. Kabongo was forced to repay the airfare.
“It was a minor setback,” Kabongo said Saturday. “The whole thing was me just trying to be a better player. It was never to break any rules.”
He returned for the final 11 games, averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 assists and 2.2 steals and shooting 41.8 percent before deciding to turn pro.
He said not being drafted was “a blessing in disguise. For me to be here in a great organization … I’m happy to be around something like that.”
Kabongo, considered especially effective off the dribble, said he has a “great basketball IQ, can pass pretty well. I can affect the game at both ends. I know I’m not a polished player.”
He has known James since high school and “we’ve been close ever since. He’s always been there for me.”
This and that
The Heat, still awaiting a decision from free agent center Chris Andersen, will have a seven-day window to use the one-time amnesty provision beginning Thursday. If it’s used, the likely candidates would be Mike Miller, due $12.8 million over the next two seasons, or Joel Anthony, due $7.6 million over the next two.
The Heat would be required to pay an amnestied player’s salary, but it would not count against Miami’s cap or luxury tax obligations. If the Heat decides to part ways with either, a better scenario financially would be finding a team willing to absorb either player’s contract in a trade.