As you’ve by no doubt heard by now, the Cleveland Cavaliers have signed former Raptors and Heat forward Jamario Moon to an offer sheet. The offer sheet is for at least 2 years and is believed to be for around $2 million per year. The Cavaliers used their Mid-Level Exception to sign Moon to the offer sheet, and thus will still have the Bi-Annual Exception at their disposal should they choose to still use it. The only question now is whether Moon, a restricted free agent, is still a desired commodity in the eyes of the Heat.
As a restricted free agent, the Heat have until Friday afternoon to match the Cavaliers’ offer to Moon. However, the Heat are currently trying to sign Lamar Odom and are patiently watching and waiting on Odom to see what he does in his negotiations with the Lakers. What this means for the Cavaliers is that the Heat are perhaps reluctant to spend any money right now. Furthermore, as Scott pointed out yesterday, even the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman (the Heat fans’ version of Brian Windhorst) wrote that he doesn’t believe the Heat will match the offer.
It may be premature to look in depth into what kind of player the Cavaliers might be getting in Moon, seeing as how the Heat still have 3.5 days to match the Cavaliers’ offer, but operating under the good faith of Winderman’s article, we’ll have some fun and assume the Heat don’t match the offer. If that holds up, the Cavaliers may have found another very solid player to fit into their growing rotation of athletic players with solid skill sets.
Jamario Moon is a player that seems to command more criticism than he necessarily deserves. Perhaps it’s because he has been a starter for pretty much his whole career when he should be coming off the bench. Perhaps its because he can get a little shot happy. Whatever the reason, the talk of his deficiencies have been greatly overstate as far as I’m concerned.
The first two things I heard said about Moon was that he can’t shoot, but he was a really good defender. The first one doesn’t really match up with the stats, while the jury is still out on the second claim.
Regarding Moon’s shooting, he can be streaky at times for sure, but then again, it’s hard to find a role player who isn’t. But to say he’s a poor shooter from outside is actually a mistake. Last season Moon’s True Shooting Percent was .567 for the season and his Effective Field Goal Percentage was .537. Comparatively, Mo Williams’ TS% was .588 and and his eFG% was .548 while Delonte West’s TS% was .559 and his eFG% was .530. While Moon’s eFG% on his jumper is .465, a good amount lower than Mo’s .545 or Delonte’s .503, the overall numbers illustrate Jamario’s ability to efficiently score. Moon shot a modest 35.5% from beyond the arc last season, and while those numbers won’t wow anyone, they’re also not so poor as to be a liability as long as the Cavaliers can make sure they use him properly in the offense.
That part will be the key with Jamario. Last season a third of Jamario’s shots came in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. A number that high is fine for your first or second option, but it’s entirely too high for a role player. And therein lies much of the frustration with Moon. It’s not that he can’t shoot, it’s that his shot selection isn’t always the most disciplined. Again, part of this could be because he has started in 135 games the last two seasons when he really shouldn’t be a primary focus of the offense. Ideally in Cleveland, he will be coming off the bench and much less will be asked and expected of him. If the Cavaliers can find ways to utilize Moon on the left wing, and put him positions to make smart basketball plays from the left side, he has a chance to do a lot of good as illustrated by his Hot Spots chart below:
While his offensive game in terms of pure scoring may be somewhat hit and miss at times, there are some things Moon does very well. He does a great job taking care of the ball and rarely turns it over. At 6’8” he’s also a pretty good rebounder. He’s particularly adept at defensive rebounding, and he’s pretty good at running in the open court on the break, which is a key attribute to have with the quantity of defensive rebounders the Cavaliers now have. Should they choose to try to run more again this season, the Cavaliers now have the kind of flexible and athletic roster to be pretty effective at it.
Furthermore, Moon is also a really good free shooter as well. After shooting 74.1% from the line his first season, he bumped that number up to 85.0% last year. While he doesn’t really get fouled very much, on a team that ranked 21st in the NBA in FT% last year, having yet another guy who can knock down some FTs and thus be used in late game scenarios is always a nice addition.
Defensively, Moon can be somewhat tough to figure out. He’s very active, very athletic, and good at creating steals with his quick and active hands. However, his defense really slid downhill when he joined Miami last season. After posting a –6.5 defensive rating with Toronto (meaning teams score 6.5 more points per 100 possessions with Moon on the bench rather than on the court), he actually posted +4.1 defensive rating in Miami. Taking note that Miami was a better defensive team in terms of both FG% against and points against last season, it’s interesting that Moon’s defensive rating slid so far upon his arrival in Miami. Admittedly, I did not see enough of Moon in Miami to make an educated opinion on the reason for this dramatic shift, but you can’t help but wonder if perhaps Moon’s defensive ability was slightly exaggerated on a bad defensive team like Toronto and if he was perhaps exposed a bit in Miami. Or else it could be that Miami used Moon to defend the 4 more than he did in Toronto. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see how Moon’s defense translates to Cleveland.
Nonetheless, if Miami declines to match Moon’s offer and he really does come to Cleveland, then Danny Ferry has made another very wise and shrewd move. Ferry struck when he found the perfect timing to sign a restricted free agent, and he has potentially added another versatile and interchangeable piece to the roster. Similar to with Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon will now be in a situation where less will be asked of him and as is so often the case with key role players, less is almost always more in terms of production. Last season the Cavaliers’ bench looked mighty thin in the postseason, but now instead of having to call on Wally Szczerbiak or Sasha Pavlovic, the Cavaliers can now bring Anthony Parker/Delonte West and Jamario Moon off the bench. These are guys who have proven they can produce and be effective. Don’t be discouraged by the flaws in Moon’s game that people will point out. It’s hard to find any role players in the NBA who don’t have flaws. The essential aspect is not asking a player like Moon to do too much and finding ways to put him in position on the court where he can best showcase his strengths and minimize his flaws.
So far this offseason Danny Ferry has rid the Cavaliers of some deadweight in the likes of Ben Wallace, Szczerbiak, and Pavlovic and replaced them with players who still have a pulse and who can be key parts of this team in Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Parker, and possibly Jamario Moon. The onus now falls on Mike Brown to properly implement said additions.