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No D-League for rookies?

1/7/2012

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Celtics rookies JaJuan Johnson, center, and E'Twaun Moore, right, alongside Danny Ainge.BOSTON -- Celtics rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have combined for a mere 34 minutes of floor time through the first eight games of the 2011-12 season, but coach Doc Rivers said Friday night he's both encouraged by their early progress and that he would prefer not to send them to the D-League given their value to the parent club during a game-heavy season.

"This year, I hope we can keep everyone up, honestly, because I think there will be games where guys will be sitting and guys will be going, so I don’t know about the D-League this year," said Rivers. "I don’t know if that hurts them or helps them, honestly, but we have to think about the team this year, and I think it would probably be better for them to hang around us."

Moore was a healthy scratch Friday night and, when Mickael Pietrus is healthy enough for game action, Johnson might join him, even after the NBA added a 13th active roster spot this season. Moore was challenging for minutes early in the year, but appears stuck behind second-year guard Avery Bradley and swingman Sasha Pavlovic at his position. With a logjam at power forward, Johnson has only seen the floor in mop-up duty.

Regardless, Rivers likes what he's seen from the pair of Purdue products despite not having a true summer to prepare for their rookie campaigns.

"They are coming along," said Rivers. "It’s just been the numbers game with them -- there are so many guys in front of them. I think both of them are going to be long-time pros, and good pros. E'Twaun is the bigger surprise because I didn’t know as much about him. We did a lot of research on JaJuan, but the other one is more of a surprise because he's a second-round pick. [Moore] can play, he can shoot the ball. The question was can he play the point guard position. I think he can."

Rivers noted that, despite not logging big minutes, just being around this team is a positive for the young players.

"I don’t think it hurts, that’s for sure," he said. "I just think you see the work ethic. And I think that’s always good for them and I stay on them about that. And I think it's good for young guys. You see Ray [Allen] and Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] and [Rajon] Rondo, and you see what they put into the game. You realize it’s not magic."