Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
1. The rookies: Summer league offers our first glimpse of the league’s freshest batch of players going against other NBA-caliber talent. While we always caution against reading too much into summer league play (both good and bad), you can get a decent read on where a player is during July hoops. For the Celtics, most eyes will be on first-round picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Sullinger comes with questions about his back and whether his game can translate to the NBA level, while Melo has been labeled a project, though his defense could hold the key to first-year floor time. The players with the most at stake, however, are often the second-round picks like Celtics’ 51st pick Kris Joseph, who must prove he deserves a roster spot. Last time we were in Orlando two years ago, second-round pick Luke Harangody shot his way onto Boston’s regular-season roster.
2. Progress for second-year players: By now you know how it goes in Boston: First-year players often spend most of their rookie seasons glued to the bench. Year 2 everyone watches to see if those players can make what we can now affectionately call the “Avery Bradley leap.” With that in mind, Celtics second-year players JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore will be in the spotlight this summer. The Purdue duo saw limited floor time this past season, particularly in the second half of the year, but the Celtics are hopeful they can carve out roles next season. No one really expects them to do what Bradley did and leap into the starting lineup, but Boston would certainly benefit if the two showed signs of becoming legitimate role players. And they’ll have every opportunity to do just that. After Ray Allen’s departure, there’s a void at shooting guard waiting to be filled by confident shooter like Moore, while Johnson showed flashes of freak athleticism last season and that’s something this veteran team desperately needs.
At 1 PM today, you can turn on NBA TV and watch a Boston Celtics team play an Oklahoma City team. They’ll be wearing practice jerseys and you won’t recognize half the players, but it’s going to be 5-on-5 basketball, and it’s going to mean something.
I’m looking at the five guys mentioned in that excerpt closely. My main focus, though, is on E’Twaun Moore.
“We have to see a lot more from him. We’ll use the (summer-league) games,” assistant general manager Austin Ainge said. “In practice he stands out because he’s familiar with our system. When he goes up against some of the summer-league guys who are rotation players for other NBA teams, it will be good for him to stack up, measure himself and get his timing back. It’s hard, though. We’re not going to make any rush evaluations after a couple of games. We’re in two summer leagues, and we’ll give him a good long look.”
There’s one person, though, whose attention will have to be held.
“Doc knows he can make shots and score the ball,” Lue said. “But right now there’s the opportunity for him to play some backup point. This is a great opportunity to show that he can play backup point. We know he can make shots and score the ball.”
E’Twaun is on a non-guaranteed contract, and it becomes guaranteed if he survives both Summer Leagues. I don’t think the Celtics will cut him… unless he flat-out sucks in both leagues… and I don’t expect that at all.
The opportunity will be there for Moore, more than anyone else, I think. No only is Ray Allen gone, but Avery Bradley will very likely miss at least month or so as he recovers from surgery on his other shoulder. So it’s very likely Jason Terry will slide into the starting 2-guard spot, leaving room behind both him and Rondo for someone to step up. Yes, the Celtics are supposedly pursuing Courtney Lee, but that pursuit will be difficult. The Celtics simply don’t have a lot of assets to move in the effort to get him.
Remember, there are rules associated with making a trade once you’re over the cap. As a non-taxpaying team, the Celtics and their trading partner must send/receive salaries that are within 150% plus 100,000 of the outgoing salary. So if Courtney Lee were to make $5 million, the Celtics would have to send out about $3.3 million to “match.” Also keep in mind, draft picks carry no monetary value… so JaJuan Johnson’s $1.089 million plus two first rounders wouldn’t work because even though those first rounders will likely make more than $1 million each, that value isn’t factored in to the trade math.
So Moore will have a chance to prove that he can play meaningful minutes and contribute. But before we go fantasizing about him stepping into the “first guard off the bench” role, he has to step up in summer league. And that starts today at 1 PM.
You can watch the game on NBA TV. If you’re at work, you can follow along with me on Twitter.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Could Bradley’s status entice a top guard? | C’s can’t sign and trade Krstic | Sources: C’s serious suitors for Courtney Lee | WEEI: Courting Courtney Lee and what’s next for the Celtics | Bradley to have second shoulder surgery | CSNNE: C’s still interested in OJ Mayo | Herald: Ubuntu a 2 way street | Bradley shoulders long wait | Globe: More surgery for Bradley | Rivers laments this loss | Don’t expect sign-and-trade between Boston and Miami |