Boston Celtics: E'Twaun Moore
Of course, coming through with great box scores never hurts one's cause for a job in the NBA, and that's what Moore did Tuesday night, pouring in a Summer League-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and two assists as the Celtics escaped a Chicago Bulls comeback and emerged with a 79-74 victory to move to 2-0 in Vegas action.
But these weren't 25 selfish points from Moore. While the Summer League is known for players who chuck the ball at the basket in the hopes of getting noticed, Moore played a patient, calculated game on Tuesday, taking his shots when they became available and never sacrificing the team offense for his own shot selection.
"He's always been a scorer, but he's trying to convert into a point guard, trying to run a team," Celtics Summer League coach Tyronn Lue said. "But we just want him to be aggressive, looking for his shot, and attack and look to score. He had a great night, carried us."
Moore came out on fire as he buried back-to-back left baseline turnaround jump shots as part of a 5-for-6 shooting effort in the first quarter that saw him finish with 11 points.
"I just hit a few early, so I said, 'Why not keep going, keep shooting?' It felt good, so why not be aggressive?" Moore said. "Any time you hit your first couple, it gives you confidence going into the rest of the game, so I just kept looking for it."
Players: JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore
2011-12 averages: JJ: 3.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 8.3 mpg; EM: 2.9 ppg, 0.9 apg, 8.7 mpg
2011-12 salary: JJ: $1 million; EM: $474,000
Season highlight: For Johnson, it didn't get any better than a 33-minute run in a 95-91 triumph over the Bulls in mid-February. Johnson connected on 6-of-13 shots for a season-high 12 points (including some highlight-worthy dunks) to go along with four rebounds, two steals and a block. Johnson got some quality burn through February before the rotation tightened up after the All-Star break. When Boston rallied from a 27-point deficit in Orlando in late January, it was Moore who provided a surprising spark in his finest outing of the season. Moore connected on 5-of-6 shots, including all four 3-pointers he hoisted, while scoring 16 points in 18 minutes. Moore's effort earned him some extra time while Keyon Dooling was sidelined due to injury, but he was likewise thin on minutes after the first half of the season.
Season lowlight: Two nights before his outburst against the Bulls, Johnson got a public tongue-lashing from an irate Doc Rivers when he failed to execute an offensive set during a head-shaking loss in Toronto. Johnson bounced back well, but clearly the Celtics wanted him in the playbook more. He spent the playoffs inactive, the team instead going with veteran late-season addition Sean Williams in an active role. Moore didn't have a particularly egregious lowlight. His worst game was a particularly harmless late-January loss to visiting Phoenix in which he missed 5-of-6 shots while chipping in a mere two points to go along with three turnovers.
Teacher's notes: There simply wasn't enough floor time to properly grade the players (though we encourage you to do so in the polls). Like most rookies, there were encouraging glimpses, but the usual stumbles. Rivers often gushed about the duo's work ethic and their easygoing demeanor helped them blend harmlessly into a veteran locker room. We all know how hard it is for true rookies to make an impact in Rivers' system during the Big Three era, so the true test comes next season when roster changes could open more doors.
What's next?: Both Johnson and Moore can expect starring roles as part of Boston's 10-game summer schedule in Orlando and Las Vegas. It's a chance to showcase where they are at against NBA-caliber competition. The work won't stop there, though, as Johnson and Moore need to use the remainder of the offseason to put themselves in position to compete for jobs when camp opens. Johnson's spot is a bit more secure than Moore (who has a non-guaranteed second-year option), but all indications are both will be around with a chance to earn bigger roles.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Johnson and Moore's 2011-12 seasons? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
The Celtics' rookie, taken with the 55th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, had, up until recently, played only a handful of minutes in games that had already been decided before he graced the court. But with veteran guard Keyon Dooling fighting a nagging right knee injury, minutes have become available for the likes of Moore and second-year Texas product Avery Bradley.
Bradley had been garnering the bulk of those minutes when Dooling first went down, mainly due to his aggressive and energetic defensive play, but C's head coach Doc Rivers finally gave Moore an extended opportunity in last Saturday's 97-83 loss to the Indiana Pacers, when Bradley was ineffective. Moore checked in and proceeded to play 20 minutes, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Since then, Moore's playing time has been more consistent, and another large helping of minutes could be headed his way on Friday night, when the Celtics take on the Phoenix Suns at home. Rajon Rondo -- who suffered a right wrist injury in Wednesday's win over the Toronto Raptors -- is listed as doubtful, and it's currently looking like Bradley will start at point guard and Moore will be one of the first guards off the bench, which translates to both a larger role and increased minutes.
"I'm not sure if [Rondo] will play or not, so [I'm just going to be prepared], play the game, follow the game plan, and watch the film and be ready," Moore said following the Celtics' practice at HealthPoint on Thursday.
"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."
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Following the first practice of their NBA careers, Celtics rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore sounded like a couple of enthusiastic kids just home from the first day of school.
“Oh man,” said Moore, “the first practice was definitely a good one and exciting to finally get the nerves out of my system. I’ve been watching the past couple days and just learning and … seeing how the Celtics do it.”
“It was great,” Johnson said. “I learned a lot. It was pretty much just learning the defense. I paid attention to the offense stuff when I was sitting out. But it definitely felt good to be out there on the floor.”
The two Purdue products were drafted in June, Johnson by the New Jersey Nets with the 27th overall pick (before being traded to Boston), and Moore by the Celtics at 55th overall in the second round. Johnson, a 6-foot-10 forward, was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in his senior season. The 6-foot-4 Moore, a guard, was an honorable mention Associated Press All-American, and averaged 18.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Moore and Johnson have been present in camp the past few days, but have been unable to practice before their deals were made official Monday.
“It’s been tough on my legs, really -- just from all that standing,” cracked Johnson of all the waiting around. "You get kinda restless. You’re trying to just take in as much as you can. But it’s been tough. Obviously when you see your teammates competing and things like that you definitely just wanna get out there and get your competitive juices flowing. But I’m just happy to be out here today.”
Moore's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Friday night that his client's contract was done and in the process of being signed, which would allow Moore to participate in the team's first practice session.
The Celtics drafted Moore with the 55th overall pick in June's draft. During the lockout, he traveled to Italy to work on his game and the team must have liked what it saw to essentially guarantee him a spot on the 15-man roster.
"It's a great situation for E'Twaun," said agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment. "Treviso is a terrific team that plays top European competition and, if the lockout ends, there's an option to terminate the contract -- a small window of time -- so we'll just see what happens.
"It's an exciting chance for him to play -- play at a high level -- and make some money in a great environment."
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The two parts initially agreed to a short NBA out when the lockout will end, but Moore asked to put an NBA out to exercise even if he won't have a written proposal by Celtics, who hold his rights in NBA. Cimberio Varese did not accept the new offer made by Moore and his American agent and decided to give up on the negotiation. "His request was not logical and was too risky for us. So we decided to break the negotiation" said Cecco Vescovi, president of the Italian team.
* Forsberg's thoughts: Moore's agent, Mark Bartelstein, has preached patience in this process as he's looking to get his client a deal that caters to his desires (chief of which, apparently, is being able to compete for a job with the Celtics when this lockout ends). After expressing hope Sunday that a deal could get done soon, it now appears Moore could be in a holding pattern for a little longer. It hardly seems like anything to worry about. Bartelstein had said how there's numerous teams with interest, including some outside the Italian league, and Moore is biding his time playing in the Indy Pro-Am with fellow Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson. Bartelstein also has his hands full with numerous NFL clients that are seeking work now that the lockout has been lifted in that sport. Until there's a run on international jobs, there seems little reason for Moore to rush into anything until he finds a deal that works for him.
A report on international basketball site Sportando indicated Sunday that Moore was close to inking a deal with Cimberio Varese of Italy's Lega Serie A. The report said that the deal would include some sort of opt out clause so that Moore, the 55th overall pick in last month's draft, could potentially return stateside when a new collective bargaining agreement is achieved.
Moore's agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment, said Sunday night that Moore is still weighing multiple offers, including some that exist outside of the Italian league. Numerous times this summer, Moore, who is in Indianapolis participating in the Indy Pro-Am league along with Celtics top draft pick JaJuan Johnson, has expressed a desire to be with the Celtics when basketball resumes, which would seem to make an opt out clause necessary, but Bartelstein said that was still up for negotiation depending on the opportunity overseas (early indications from NBA players signing overseas is that the better teams and salaries often come at the expense of an opt out clause).
Bartelstein acknowledged that he's doing everything possible to ensure his client gets the opportunity to earn a job with the Celtics, noting how that's Moore's top priority moving forward. But the uncertainty about whether there will even be NBA basketball next season has them leaving doors open.
Moore, a 22-year-old combo guard out of Purdue, should benefit from getting a taste of professional ball during the NBA work stoppage. Even if he elects to forgo the opt out clause, the Celtics would retain his draft rights for future seasons (think Semih Erden and the two years he spent in Turkey before joining Boston last season).
Last week, ESPNDeportes.com's Alvaro Martin broke down the overseas options for NBA players, ranking Italy's Lega Serie A among the top spots. Here's his analysis:
Italy's Lega Serie A: Considered the second-strongest league in Europe, third-strongest overall behind the NBA and Spain's ACB. Italy's teams attract talent out of proportion to its ticket-selling capabilities: only two of the 16 teams have stadiums that hold 10,000 fans or more, and six teams compete with buildings with a capacity of 4,000 fans or less. New Basket Brindisi, in Italy's heel, competes with an arena that holds just 2,500 fans -- yet last season former NBAers Eric Williams and Yakhouba Diawara played for them. Even Benetton Treviso's PalaVerde arena has capacity for 5,134 fans.
Beyond the attractions of Italy as a destination, like Spain's ACB, the quality of the coaching in this league is superb. Instead of four games or more in a typical NBA week, players in the Lega Serie A may have two or at most three games. Practice time fills out the rest of the week, and NBA players hungry to learn will make good use of fine coaching; Brandon Jennings considerably improved his 3-point stroke here. Teams can sign a maximum of three non-European Union players per season. Siena, Milano, Roma, Pesaro, Bologna and Treviso may have job openings with decent salaries, if they have not filled their rosters yet.
The Lega Serie A will be less demanding than Spain's ACB when it comes to escape clauses when the lockout ends. Perhaps six to 10 openings for NBA players who would earn $500,000 tax-free or more per full season may be available, with three of those jobs penciled in for the Italian NBA players.
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Having played with and against the NBA's best, Landry said Johnson and Moore have bright professional basketball futures.
"They definitely are NBA players," Landry said. "I'm ready to play the Celtics. I'm going to show the rookies a little something. They definitely should help that team.
"Me, along with everybody in West Lafayette and Lafayette, knows that those guys will contribute. It's crazy that they were drafted by the same team. That just doesn't happen."
While Landry has said that he enjoys playing in New Orleans and would be interested in playing for the Indiana Pacers or his hometown Milwaukee Bucks, he is intrigued by the Celtics.
"What would be even more weird is if the Boston Celtics sign me," Landry said. "Anything is possible. With free agency, you really just never know. We could be Purdue East."
Don't get your hopes up, Celtics fans. Landry is will be a highly coveted free agent once the lockout ends and Boston already has a little logjam at the power forward spot, particularly if they retain Glen Davis. The Celtics have more pressing needs at center and on the wing to use their available assets. Boston did have a Landry once, Carl's brother, Marcus, who was obtained in the Nate Robinson deal at the February trade deadline in 2010. The younger Landry spent some time with the Maine Red Claws before being waived before season's end.
In the Journal and Courier article, Moore also discussed the potential of playing overseas if the lockout persists, but noted his focus right now is on prepping for his opportunity in Boston. Said Moore: "I'm not thinking about [overseas] right now. I most definitely want to be a Boston Celtic."
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