Fingers crossed on Ennis
James Ennis slams it down against New Zealand at the Perth Arena. Picture: Getty Images.

Perth Wildcats are all but assured of retaining James Ennis until at least the end of the NBL season as the deadline for his possible return to Miami draws closer.

Ennis has lit up the NBL since arriving in Australia last August and is among the leading MVP candidates, ranking second in scoring with 22.5 points a game.

The athletic 23-year-old is in his first season as a professional after leaving the US college system.

He signed a one-season deal with the Wildcats, but Miami retained the rights to the second-round NBA draft pick.

The Heat can recall Ennis to the NBA or development team Sioux Falls before the agreed deadline, which is tomorrow.

If Miami exercise that option, Ennis' last match for the Wildcats could be against Cairns at Perth Arena tonight.

But Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said he had not spoken to Miami about Ennis' possible return and took that as a positive sign.

"I haven't heard anything at all," Gleeson said.

"No news is good news, so that's all right. I might turn my phone off.

"Going back to day one, they wanted to place him overseas for a year.

"They didn't want to bring him back, otherwise he would have played in the D-League.

"I would be more than surprised if the phone call came saying that they wanted him back.

"They have a long-term future with him and I think next year is a prime time for that."

The Wildcats have been upset by the perceived physical treatment Ennis has received from opponents this season and he will no doubt be a focus for Cairns in tonight's game.

But Gleeson said the Wildcats would focus on their own performance tonight after lacking the intensity required to win in the narrow loss to the Melbourne Tigers last Friday night.

"We've just got to go out and play consistent basketball and hopefully when there's a foul that is meant to be called, it's called," Gleeson said.

"Jimmy (Ennis) gets a lot of attention. He's averaging 22 points in the league and a lot of teams build their whole game around stopping him playing, so we've got to be mindful of that."

Gleeson said the Wildcats would have to shut down Cairns' perimeter shooters to win tonight's contest.

Taipans Clint Steindl, Alex Loughton, Demetri McCamey and Stephen Weigh can be damaging from long range.

Meanwhile, injured Wildcats centre Matt Knight will have more scans in Melbourne tomorrow after two recent bouts of concussion suffered from accidental blows on court.

Knight has been temporarily replaced on the Wildcats roster by Jeremiah Trueman.

The West Australian

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