|Report: Von Wafer wouldn’t rule out Celtics return||07.06.11 at 1:29 pm ET|
In order to break his streak of starting with a new team each time he enters an NBA training camp, Von Wafer is reportedly opening to returning to the Celtics if and when the 2011-12 season begins, according to a report by ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. Here’s what Wafer’s agent, Terrance Doyle, told Forsberg:
“Von would love to be back. He’s never gotten that opportunity to go back with a team.”
But do the Celtics want Wafer back? Especially considering they gave Wafer’s No. 12 to their first-round pick (Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson) and drafted a shooting guard with their No. 55 pick (Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore) in addition to signing another undrafted guard (Pittsburgh’s Gilbert Brown). Not to mention the number of quality shooting guards expected to be available via free agency — including Delonte West.
In just 9.5 minutes per over 58 games — no thanks in part to a calf injury — Wafer averaged 3.2 points on 42.1 percent shooting from the field (26.9 from 3-point range). Unless you count his preseason brawl with West, Wafer didn’t exactly provide the firepower off the bench the Celtics had hoped from a guy who scored 9.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting (39.0 from 3) during his 2008-09 campaign in a Rockets uniform.
While Wafer’s defensive deficiency improved under the tutelage of Doc Rivers & Co., he only reached double-digit scoring just six times during the season. Two of those performances came in the final two games of the regular season, when the starters rested, and two more came in 15-point blowouts. Chances are the Celtics could find somebody to provide better punch on both ends of the floor — even at the bottom of the salary barrel.
|JaJuan Johnson on D&C: I just want to learn from veterans||06.28.11 at 10:15 am ET|
Given that the Celtics are a veteran team that hopes to compete for a title, the 27th overall pick may have a hard time finding regular minutes, something Johnson said he’s ready to deal with.
“I don’t expect too much,” Johnson said. “Really, this year I just want to take in as much as I can from those older guys. Just learn from those guys and really just continue to get better as a player.”
The 221-pound forward is trying to bulk up so he is better-suited to play forward in the NBA. Johnson said that it’s a matter of diet, which he hopes to get straightened out in short order.
“When I was back in Chicago, I had a chef, and he was cooking for me every day, pretty much helping me with calories, the amount of calories I needed to put in each day,” he said. “Once I get in [to Boston on Thursday] I’ll get back on track.”
As for having his college teammate join him in Boston, Johnson seemed thrilled. E’Twaun Moore, with whom Johnson played at Purdue, was taken by the C’s in the second round.
“It’s a huge comfort factor,” Johnson said of the team also drafting Moore. “He was with me freshman year, in college. To have somebody else at this stage is almost unheard of. It’s definitely a blessing to have him with me.”
Johnson said he was told by Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge that he was coming to a respectable organization, and noted that he’s ready to do whatever he can to help it.
“It’s a team with tradition,” he said. “They do things the right way. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m willing to put in all that work, just to become a better player.”
|Video: JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are introduced||06.27.11 at 2:40 pm ET|
|JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are ready to contribute||at 2:35 pm ET|
The Celtics introduced their newest players — JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore — to the media at Edison school in Brighton on Monday and if first impressions count for anything both players came across as engaging and mature. That’s to be expected of a pair of four-year college players, both of whom earned degrees at Purdue.
Education was the theme of the day as Johnson and Moore were on hand to dedicate a new mobile computer lab through the Celtics Shamrock Foundation with 25 new Mac’s for the kids in the K-8 public school. With their parents in attendance, Johnson and Moore mixed easily with the kids.
Both acknowledged that it was a strange but pleasant coincidence that they would wind up on the same team in the NBA. That process didn’t begin on draft night. It started when both players decided to return for their senior seasons after going through the draft evaluation last year.
The extra year in school wasn’t wasted as Johnson increased his scoring average from 15.5 to 20.5 points per game and was named Big 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Moore also raised his scoring average for the fourth straight season with the Boilerrmakers and shot 40 percent from the college 3-point line.
“These guys have both improved a lot over the course of their college careers,” team president Danny Ainge said. “They’ve played a lot of big games in a lot of hostile environments. I think that can only help.”
The knock on Johnson is that he’s thin and he acknowledged that he wants to add to his 220 pounds in the weight room and with a nutritional program. The negative for Moore is that at 6-foot-4 (in shoes) he may be too small to matchup with NBA 2-guards and he rarely played the point at Purdue. Johnson said that he sees himself as a four-man — as do the Celtics. Moore described himself as a combo guard and said he knew he had to be prepared to handle any backcourt assignment.
The NBA is filled with undersized, or oddly sized, players and each player brings something different to the equation for the Celtics who are trying to add pieces that can help this season, as well as in the future.
“I can run the floor, rebound, defend and be able to knock down that 15-18 foot shot pretty consistently,” Johnson said. “That’s what I can bring to the team.”
Moore was an accomplished scorer at Purdue and had a memorable game against Ohio State when he scored 38 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers. Johnson noted that in college Moore was the player the other Boilermakers counted on to make a big shot.
Their roles are reversed now as the pressure will be on Johnson to provide some interior help and athleticism to a frontline that can use both. Moore will have a chance to earn a roster spot and he may have competition. The Celtics brought University of Pittsburgh guard Gilbert Brown in to get acclimated with the facilities.
Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Ainge was in contact with him after the draft and compared his situation to Wes Matthews, an undrafted free agent out of Marquette who has already carved out a niche in the NBA, as well as a five-year $32 million contract from the Blazers. The Celtics can’t sign undrafted free agents — or free agents of any kind — until July 1 and if there is a lockout Brown told the paper he was likely to play in Germany.
On a team with so many open positions and a determination to get younger, more athletic and affordable there’s a decent chance that both Moore and Brown could find their way on to the Celtics roster. Ainge told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan last week that he did not intend to mess with the team’s cap space after the 2012 season when they will be way below the cap, regardless of whatever system is in place in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
That’s why this draft was so important for the Celtics. They want to remain competitive for a championship this season, while also laying the foundation for the future. Ainge told D & C that one more year with the big three was realistic, but two was probably asking too much. With Johnson, Moore, possibly Brown and last year’s first round pick Avery Bradley vying for playing time, the Celtics will have not only youth, but experienced youth to try and alter the dynamic of the team.
Johnson will wear No. 12 as a tribute to his mother, Rhonda Curlin. That was her number in high school. Moore will wear No. 55. He said he was a fan of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams growing up.
Johnson said he was looking forward to learning from Kevin Garnett. “If he tells me something I’ll definitely do my best to execute what he’s saying,” Johnson said. “I don’t want him to shut me down. I want to learn as much as I can from him.”
Ainge said the team would extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jeff Green before the deadline as expected.
One area Ainge wouldn’t address was any potential free agent plans. Anything and everything related to the new CBA has been off-limits in keeping with NBA policy.
|All you need to know about Celtics draft picks JaJuan Johnson & E’Twaun Moore||06.24.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
After the initial reaction to the Celtics‘ first-round selection of Purdue senior power forward JaJuan Johnson with the No. 27 pick and the second-round selection of Purdue shooting guard E’Twaun Moore with the No. 55 pick — getting all the “Moore Johnson” and “Danny Ainge ordered a couple Boilermakers” jokes out of the way — it’s time to analyze what exactly each of these guys can provide. Here’s pretty much all you need to know about them.
The pre-draft measurements for the Celtics’ two picks (each player’s ranking at his particular position in parentheses) …
JaJuan Johnson (PF) and E’Twaun Moore (SG)
6-foot-10 (2nd) … Height … 6-foot-4 (15th)
220 lbs. (28th) … Weight … 191 lbs. (28th)
7-foot-2 (11th) … Wingspan … 6-foot-9.5 (10th)
8-foot-11.5 (6th) … Standing Reach … 8-foot-3.5 (20th)
7.5% (13th) … Body Fat … 7.6% (8th)
33.5″ (3rd) … Standing Vertical … 32.0″ (7th)
38.0″ (3rd) … Max Vertical … 34.5″ (13th)
15 reps (5th) … Bench (185 lbs.) … n/a
11.21 (19th) … Lane Agility … 11.12 (17th)
3.14 (33rd) … 3/4 Court Sprint … 3.31 (19th)
What can you take away from these numbers? Obviously, Johnson’s got great leaping ability to match his height. He’s strong, but he’s also skinny and ranks 13th among incoming power forwards with his 7.5 percent body fat. While those issues can be improved with relative ease, his speed and quickness probably won’t.
As for Moore, he ranks in the middle or bottom among incoming shooting guards in most of these measurables, but his wingspan and leaping ability might make up for some of his lack of height.
Where the Celtics were picking — at No. 27 and No. 55 — they weren’t going to land the athletic freaks with off-the-charts measurables. Instead, they targeted guys whose four years of college experience and production translated into a school-record 107 victories.
So, let’s break down their per-game statistics as seniors for a Boilermakers team that finished 26-8 and lost to VCU in the third round of the NCAA Tournament …
|Chris Mannix on M&M: JaJuan Johnson ‘could become a legitimate starter in this league’||at 12:17 pm ET|
SI.com’s Chris Mannix spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday morning about Thursday’s draft and the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
‘He is a big guy, a legitimate 6-foot-10 with that I think 7-foot-2 wingspan,’ Mannix said. ‘He’s a very good low-post player. ‘¦ I think with NBA coaching he can become an even more polished offensive player.’
Mannix also said that Johnson should develop well under the veteran leadership the Celtics have.
‘I think JaJuan Johnson is going to benefit enormously from playing behind Kevin Garnett for a year, and practicing against him for a year, two years,’ Mannix said. ‘I think having Garnett and having Ray Allen on the roster are invaluable assets, because guys are going to be able to learn from these two guys.’
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, the day after he selected two Purdue players in the NBA draft.
The C’s first-round pick was 6-foot-10 JaJuan Johnson, and Ainge sounded cautiously optimistic that Johnson can help the Celtics immediately.
“I think he can contribute,” Ainge said. “I always hate to put too many expectations on guys before the draft and after the draft. I think that sometimes we get all excited and get carried away on the draft. Historically, there’s just not that many guys that come in on a good team, on championship-caliber teams, that are able to contribute. Well have three or four young guys on our roster this year, and one or two of them might contribute day in and day out. The others will have to find their spots through injuries and opportunities in other ways.
“Size is hard to find. I think that his size gives him a little bit of an advantage. And his experience in college ‘ he was an All-Big Ten player, and he’s nearly 6-foot-10 and he’s long. There’s just not that many of those guys out there, so the competition is much thinner.”
Following a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Obviously, you’re happy with your guy. How long did you target this particular guy, JaJuan Johnson?
We started following JaJuan closely last year, trying to see if he should come out to the draft. He was counseled to back to school. We liked him some last year, but we did follow him closely this year.
I think the only minus, really, is just he’s very thin. But he’s multi-skilled. He can shoot, handle the ball, pass, block shots, rebound. He just needs to put a little weight on.
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