Moore signing a big lift
Seven-footer will add some much-needed length
LOS ANGELES - In a matter of a week, a smiling Mikki Moore went from playing on a lottery team to playing for the defending champs.
The Celtics signed Moore Tuesday for a prorated $1.3 million for the rest of the season. The 7-foot, 225-pounder made his debut in his second stint with the Celtics in last night's 93-91 loss to the Clippers. He finished with 4 points and 2 assists in 11 minutes.
"Mikki was pretty good for not knowing [the plays]," coach Doc Rivers said last night. "He was late on some stuff defensively. He will be better. With Mikki, he is going to help us but it's going to take some time. He can help us."
Moore, 33, said there were several factors that swayed him to sign with the Celtics.
He had good conversations with Celtics president Danny Ainge and Rivers, who expects Moore to provide energy off the bench. Moore is close to Celtics assistant Clifford Ray, who coached him in the Continental Basketball Association. Because of injuries, Moore also has an opportunity to play significant minutes for a defending champion, and he enjoyed his short stint with the Celtics during the 2002-03 season. He says he chose the Celtics over Dallas, Utah, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Denver.
"I just feel like I can help this team a lot," said Moore, who played three games for the Celtics after signing a 10-day contract in 2002-03. "I can feed off their energy. It's a team full of good guys. I just wanted to be part of something great. Everybody welcomed me like I was already part of the family. I'm happy to be here."
Moore averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.2 minutes in 46 games this season before being waived by Sacramento last week. Moore has played in 15 postseason games, 12 with New Jersey in 2007, and said he will play hard "24/7."
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were ecstatic about the addition.
"We get a chance to get another veteran guy," Pierce said. "With us being slim in the rotation at the big spot, having Kevin [ Garnett] and [Brian ] Scalabrine out, some much-needed help is here."
Said Allen: "I played with Mikki [in Seattle]. I know how Mikki can help us. I know his talent. He can knock down that jumper, he's a great rebounder, he's long, he can block shots. He can help us because he gives us greater size."
"How he conforms to their system is yet to be seen," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "But his athleticism, his ability to shoot the ball, his ability to get shots on his own, those are all things you can't teach. The rest of it you can teach and hopefully he can conform to their system."
"I think his ability to still be explosive in terms of handling the basketball and getting into the lane and creating scoring opportunities for himself and maybe for some of the other guys on the team, I think those are things that can still be advantageous for the Celtics," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said.
"I'm happy for him resurfacing to a situation where we can get back on the court," said Raptors forward Shawn Marion, who played with Marbury in Phoenix. "He can do whatever they ask. He's a talented point guard and scorer. It's a matter of need, what they need from him."
"It's good for him, good for us, good for everybody," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said to the media in New York. "Just turn the page, it's over and wherever he goes and plays, that's good. So it worked out best for everybody, I think."
"I think it wasn't comfortable for Stephon," Knicks president Donnie Walsh told the New York media. "He's got to worry about his career. I'm not comfortable being at odds with a player over that long of a period. He wasn't playing and I understood the angst with that, particularly in the last year of his contract. We want to change things here and move on."
"He hasn't been with the team for a little while," Knicks forward David Lee told the New York Post. "It's been a dead issue for us. We're all happy it's over with. Both sides are happy. I think the team is headed in the right direction now."
Asked if he'd like to see Marbury in the first round, Lee said, "I'd love to see him in the playoffs. That means we made it."