A pair of young NBA players with ties to Long Beach have been making moves and headlines this summer.
Long Beach Poly alum Jordan Bell won a championship two years ago as a rookie with the Golden State Warriors, and signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves worth $1.6 million for one season.
Bell, 24, appeared in 68 games last season with the Warriors. The 6’9” power forward averaged 3.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 11.6 minutes per game. Bell was drafted with the 38th pick in the 2017 draft by the Chicago Bulls and then traded to the Warriors. He told the Mercury News last week that he chose Minnesota because it will give him a shot at more playing time.
“I don’t want to set out goals,” Bell said. “You end up focusing on the wrong things instead of just playing basketball. My thing is to show everybody what player I can be. I’ll take what I learned from Golden State. I can bring a championship mentality and I know the stuff you go through with the ups and downs of a long season like that. I take what I learned from that team and try to share that experience.”
Long Beach State alum James Ennis also made headlines by re-signing with the Philadelphia Sixers for two years and $4.1 million, and then giving an incendiary quote last weekend. During introductions at the Sixers practice facility, Ennis was very confident in his team’s chances to win the Eastern Conference.
“The East is going to be wide open,” Ennis said. “We had a good chance last year. Kawhi (Leonard) is gone. He went to the West. So we are going to walk to the finals in the East.”
Leonard hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer to eliminate Philadelphia in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals this year, and then signed with the Los Angeles Clippers this month.
Ennis, 29, averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18 regular-season games for the Sixers after being dealt from the Houston Rockets in February. He then averaged 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21.1 minutes during the postseason, but didn’t want to leave Philadelphia via free agency.
“I didn’t chase every dollar,” Ennis told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I looked at the big picture. I love to win and that is why I came back, to win a championship.”