When the NBA’s free agency period opened, E’Twaun Moore was one of the first players to find a new home. After a successful 2015-16 season with the Chicago Bulls, Moore agreed to terms with the New Orleans Pelicans on a four-year deal worth $34 million deal on July 1.
This is an excellent deal for Moore, who played for three teams in five NBA seasons and earned less than $1 million in four of those campaigns. Now, he’ll get a nice raise and have real security for the first time since entering the league.
Moore earned his payday by playing very well in Chicago. Last season with the Bulls, the combo guard averaged 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21.4 minutes per game, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three-point range. In 22 starts (including some out of position as a forward), his averages increased to 12 points, three assists and three rebounds, while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from three.
Moore’s career-high percentages from the field and from long range came at the perfect time since he was in a contract year and because shooting is valued more than ever in today’s NBA.
His per-100-possessions stats – 17.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals – showed that he made the most of his minutes. Now, New Orleans is prepared to give him a larger role and see if he can take his game to the next level.
Basketball Insiders recently caught up with Moore to discuss his free agency decision, offseason training, why he chose to join the Pelicans and more.
Alex Kennedy: Overall, how was your free agency experience? Did you enjoy it?
E’Twaun Moore: “I figured I had played well enough, in my opinion, and I was ready for whatever happened in free agency. Then, it was really short. I signed the first day, so it wasn’t too bad for me. But that first 24 hours, from when it started to when I signed, was very intense for me. That was my first true free agency process that I went through. It was pretty intense, talking to different teams and different coaches, and having people showing their interest. Probably the most intense part was me not knowing what was going to happen – not knowing exactly what situation was going to be the best, what the offers were going to be. Just as a whole, you don’t really know what’s going to happen or have much control over what’s going to happen.”
Kennedy: What were some of the factors you considered as you weighed your free agency options and why did you ultimately settle on New Orleans?
Moore: “One of the big things was being able to make an impact. I definitely wanted to play more minutes and make an impact, helping my team win. And they’re a team that is, of course, going in a positive direction. They’re a team that’s trying to win. They have a good group of guys; they made the playoffs two years ago and I think they would have made it last year if it weren’t for all the injuries. I think we can get back into playoff contention and that’s another reason I signed.”
Kennedy: How nice was it to sign your contract so early? Was that a goal of yours entering free agency?
Moore: “Honestly, it took a lot of stress off me. I mean, I knew I had interest right away, but I didn’t know the first day I would be signed. It did actually take a lot of stress off. [When you have to wait], it’s stressful and you’re worrying, ‘Damn, where am I going to go? What’s going to happen?’ So being able to sign early eased my mind.”
Kennedy: Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the league and this Pelicans team has some other very talented offensive weapons as well. How nice is that as a point guard?
Moore: “It definitely makes my job easier, knowing we have shooters and scorers and guys who can make plays. With me and Jrue Holiday playing together, we can both play on the ball and off the ball. And, of course, playing with Anthony Davis is great because he’s so versatile. It definitely will make my job a lot easier and I’m looking forward to playing and gelling with them.”
Kennedy: Alvin Gentry has obviously had a lot of success coaching on the offensive end throughout his career. How do you think you’ll fit in his system and are you looking forward to that style of play?
Moore: “I think it will be great for me because he likes to play fast, get up and down the court, and that plays to my strengths. I like getting up and down and playing in transition and playing fast. He likes guys who can shoot and do multiple things. I think one of the huge reasons they wanted me to come here is because of my versatility – being able to shoot, being able to handle. It’s definitely a good fit.”
Kennedy: It sounds like you’ll get the opportunity to play a larger role this year and showcase what you can do. You’ve always done well when given minutes, so do you think this could potentially be a breakout year for you?
Moore: “Oh yeah, I definitely think this will be a breakout season for me. I’m not a 100 percent sure how Coach Gentry wants to do it, whether he wants me to come off the bench as a sixth man or start, but it doesn’t matter to me. Either way, I’m going to contribute to the team and display my versatility to help the team.”
Kennedy: What have you been working on this offseason?
Moore: “I’m working on my point guard skills – things like my decision-making and playing out of the pick-and-roll. Now-a-days, 80 percent of the game is out of the pick-and-roll, so I’m just [focused on] making better decisions and making plays.”
Kennedy: There are a lot of younger players on this team. At 27 years old, you’re one of the veterans on this roster. Are you embracing a leadership role with this squad?
Moore: “Oh yeah, most definitely. My leadership and my experience will definitely help. I’ve been on championship-caliber teams with me being in Boston and Chicago, teams that had enough talent to take it all the way honestly. With my experiences and things I’ve learned throughout the years, I want to share them to help those guys out.”
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