The Cavaliers’ reserve swingman is completely happy filling his role, which is to be a lock-down defender on one end of the floor and an athletic player who can run the wing and soar above the rim at the other.
“Who wouldn’t want to be in a position like this?” Moon said as he looked around the team’s beautiful Cleveland Clinic Courts practice facility. “This is probably the best situation I could have fallen into.”
Actually, Moon, who scored 12 points Wednesday against the Washington Wizards after missing the two previous exhibition games due to having two wisdom teeth removed, didn’t fall into his current situation. The Cavaliers went out and aggressively pursued him, giving the restricted free agent a three-year, $8.9 million offer sheet — only part of the third season is guaranteed — that the Miami Heat declined to match.
Though he’s 29 years old, this is only Moon’s third NBA season, as the Meridian (Miss.) Community College product played all over the country — and parts of the globe — before finally sticking with the Toronto Raptors in 2007.
Moon’s previous teams included the Gary Steelheads, Albany Patroons, Fuerza Regia Monterrey (Mexico), Marietta Storm, Rome Gladiators, Fort Worth Flyers, Kentucky Colonels, Rockford Lightning, Harlem Globetrotters, Oklahoma Storm, Huntsville Flight, Mobile Revelers and Dodge City Legends, not to mention the handful of NBA clubs he had tryouts with.
“I’ve played in a lot of places,” Moon said. “Making adjustments has become easy for me.”
The Cavaliers, who wanted to add size and athleticism at shooting guard and small forward, know exactly what they’re getting in Moon.
At 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, he’s long and lean and possesses great speed and leaping ability, which should make him an excellent finisher around the basket.
It is on defense, however, where Moon will make his biggest impact. With him on the floor, LeBron James will get an opportunity to defend a less-challenging player, which should allow the superstar to conserve a bit of energy while Moon guards the opposition’s best wing scorer.
“Sometimes you need another big, athletic wing out there with you,” James said. “I think J-Moon can definitely help us defensively.”
Right now, Moon, who was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Continental Basketball Association in 2006-07 and earned first-team all-defensive honors in the United States Basketball League that same season, relishes the role of stopper.
“They want me to defend the toughest guy on the offensive side,” he said. “I want to do that.”
Moon not only has the physical and mental attributes to shut down his man, but his extremely long arms should allow him to get in the passing lanes, though coach Mike Brown wants his new swingman’s gambles to be calculated ones that fall within the framework of the team’s defensive system.
“He’s got to keep learning our rules defensively,” Brown said. “When he does, in my opinion, he’s going to be a very dangerous player in our system.
“He’s special when it comes to jumping that passing lane. He’s special when it comes to anticipation. I want him to continue to do that, but in the same breath, just like everybody else, he will continue to do it within our system.”
Learning another new system shouldn’t be difficult for Moon, who has learned a ton of them over his career.
“I just love the game of basketball,” he said of his travels. “As long as I was around it, that was good enough for me.”
If everything goes as planned, Moon will have found a home for a few years. He knows he won’t be a star, but he likes the galaxy he’s in.
“One of the main reasons (the Cavaliers) succeeded last year is they jelled,” he said. “It was like a big group of brothers. Everybody wants to go out and play with their brothers.”
Twelve players are on the Cavaliers’ injury report, including six suffering from flu-like symptoms. The most ill are J.J. Hickson and Andre Barrett. Neither traveled with the team for tonight’s exhibition game in San Antonio and Saturday’s game in Dallas. James, Darnell Jackson and Coby Karl, who all sat out Wednesday against Washington, are listed as probable for tonight, as is Jawad Williams.
James, Jackson and Karl tested positive for Influenza A and are being treated as if they have the H1N1 virus by the proactive Cavaliers. H1N1, also known as swine flu, is a strain of Influenza A. The Cavaliers have not gotten back test results on the three players for H1N1, but are treating their entire traveling party with medication to fight the virus.
Rookie Danny Green, who has missed the last three games, is still out with a right glute contusion, while Daniel Gibson (bruised tailbone), Anderson Varejao (bruised wrist) and Mo Williams (groin) are questionable. Williams, who has rested the last two games, went through a full practice Thursday.
Delonte West, who returned to the team on Tuesday after missing a week of practice to attend to personal matters, traveled with the team, but it has not been decided if he will play in either game. Leon Powe remains out after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
- Who: Cleveland at San Antonio
- Time: 8:30 p.m.
- Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
- Radio: WTAM 1100-AM
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.