Moore will sign with the Orlando Magic,
the Orlando Sentinel reports, and for a second-year combo guard who played
sparingly in his rookie season, the Purdue product has found himself in a
rather solid situation.
Moore, 23, is not a lock to be part of the Magic's rotation
or even their NBA roster next season. Both years of his reported two-year deal
are only partially guaranteed and the addition of Moore gives Orlando 16
players, one more than the allowed maximum. The Magic seem to foresee Moore
competing for the backup point guard job behind Jameer Nelson, even though the
6-foot-4 Moore has never been a prototypical point guard in college or in his
one year as a professional.
The uncertainty is inevitable for a player in Moore's shaky
bargaining position. Within days of the July 20 trade that sent Moore, JaJuan
Johnson, Sean Williams and a second-round pick to Houston, the Rockets waived
Moore. Moore averaged a mere 8.7 minutes in the 38 games in which he appeared with
the Celtics last season, mostly as an off-guard but occasionally as a
garbage-time point guard.
Yet despite the challenges every unproven free agent faces
with a new team, Moore stands a better than even shot at contributing to the
Magic this season. He has three things working in his favor: the positional
breakdown of Orlando's roster, the in-flux state of the Magic organization
since dealing Dwight Howard, and his own youth.
Although adding Moore puts the Magic one player over the
15-player roster limit, only six of those players are guards, including Moore.
Nelson and Arron Afflalo are the presumptive starters, with J.J. Redick and
Quentin Richardson the first guards off the bench. Every rookie or second-year
player the Magic added this summer through the draft or trades — Maurice
Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, Nikola Vucevic and Gustavo Ayon — is
a frontcourt player. Basically, the Magic need guards.
The Magic also need a direction. In Year 1 A.D. (After
Dwight) with a first-year head coach in Jacque Vaughn, the team has no clear
plan. The philosophy, so far as anyone can tell, is to go young and cheap and
see if the young talent develops or crashes so hard that the next three years
bring a steady stream of lottery picks. Once upon a time, a player who had it
much worse off than Moore capitalized on a similarly ambiguous state in
Orlando. Darrell Armstrong, an undrafted 5-foot-11 guard out of Fayetteville
State, seized on the uncertainty and collected the Most Improved Player and
Sixth Man of the Year awards in 1998-99, eventually enjoying a 14-year NBA
career. For an unestablished player like Moore, there is no better opportunity
than a team that has no preconceived notions of how it will operate in the
Since the Magic do not appear to know what they want to be
or do, Moore can be and do whatever they need. He is the definitive
"combo" guard who, by way of his youth and inexperience, could mold
himself into whichever role makes him most likely to have an impact this
season. Redick and Richardson are both off-guards, while Ishmael Smith, the
incumbent backup point guard, lasted less than a month with the Warriors last
season before the Magic signed him in February. Only the first year of the
three-year deal Smith signed this offseason is guaranteed, so the
organization's commitment to Smith only runs so deep. If Moore sets his mind to
becoming the reserve point guard the Magic lack, he could find himself leading
the second unit.
Moore's morale seemed to sink deeper as it became clearer that
he had no real role on the Celtics last season. He spoke of waiting for his
opportunity, and that opportunity finally may have come. All it took was for
him to be traded, released and seemingly forgotten before opportunity knocked
Photo via Facebook/E'Twaun Moore