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NBA PM: Jamario Moon Attempting NBA Comeback

Jamario Moon is hoping to make an NBA comeback after several seasons out of the league.

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Jamario Moon Attempting NBA Comeback

Jamario Moon hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2011-12 season, but he’s hoping to change that this year. Moon is attempting to make a comeback and sign with an NBA team for the 2015-16 campaign.

During Moon’s five years in the NBA, he played for five teams – the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets – averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds throughout the duration of his career. He made a name for himself with his perimeter defense as well as his impressive athleticism. He has appeared in 286 games, including 157 starts.

Since leaving the NBA in 2012, Moon played overseas in Greece and Venezuela, and he also had a brief stint the NBA D-League. Now, he has signed with Hazan Sports Management and he’s determined to play on an NBA roster one last time. He believes he still has what it takes to be a significant contributor for a team.

“I have hit the gym harder than I’ve ever hit the gym before,” Moon told Basketball Insiders. “I was weighing in around 215, but I went in and put on some more weight and I’m knocking around 225 to 230 now. I figured putting on a couple extra pounds would help me on the defensive end because that’s what I didwhen I was in the league – I defended whomever they needed me to defend. I guarded wings, and dunked on people (laughs). I wanted to put on some weight, let these people know that I’m serious about coming back to the NBA and make an impact for a team.”

Moon has been training in Atlanta and playing in tournaments with a number of other former NBA players like Damien Wilkins and Garret Siler among others. They will compete in The Basketball Tournament, which has a $1 million prize, later this month. Moon is 35 years old, but he’s in excellent shape and feels much younger than his age.

“My body still feels like it did when I was a rookie,” Moon said. “A lot of guys that I play with or I play against in Atlanta, they ask, ‘Man, how are you still running and jumping the same way you were running and jumping when you were a rookie in the league?’ Listen, I take care of my body and I stay in the gym. Actually last year when I was overseas, we had another guy on our team who could jump real well and he was a younger guy, and I said, ‘Let me show you something.’ So I just took three or four steps and jumped and put my forehead to the rim and he was looking at me wide-eyed and said, ‘Man, you sure you’re 34 years old?!’ It’s just all about taking care of your body. I was already taking good care of my body, but to make this NBA comeback, I knew I had to take even better care of it so people know I’m serious about playing in the league.”

The veteran forward believes he can help a team with his perimeter defense. He was a very good defender during his years in the NBA. He’s willing to do the dirty work and put in the necessary effort to be a pest on that end of the floor.

“My role is being a [defensive stopper] – that’s what I did throughout my years in the league and every team needs a defender,” Moon said. “Every team has a scorer; every team has a guy that’s going to jack up shots. I could shoot the ball, but if I want to get in and I want to stay in the league and show teams I’m serious, I want to be able to do something that most people just don’t put the time and effort into doing and that’s playing great defense. You don’t get a lot of highlights going in and defending, but that’s my thing. I want to go in and guard whomever you need me to guard. I want my coach to feel comfortable with me in the game during late-game situations.

“I’ve always just wanted to be the best defender on the team. I don’t like for my man to score and I don’t like for my teammate’s man to score, so I’m running around the court trying to guard everybody.”

While defense is his biggest strength, he also feels he can help a team with his shooting. Moon shot 46.1 percent from the field during his NBA career, and he has continued to improve as a three-point shooter in recent years. When he played for the Clippers in the 2010-11 season, he shot 39.3 percent from three-point range. He improved his shot even more overseas, and believes he can be a perfect 3-and-D player for an NBA team.

“I was a good three-point shooter before, but when I went overseas, that is all we focused on; we shot threes the whole practice sometimes, so my range improved,” Moon said. “During my time playing in the league I was primarily a small forward and I played the wing, but when I went overseas, the game is so different that they played me at power forward a lot of the time. I still played small forward some, but I spent a lot of time at the four too. I was like a pick-and-pop forward, and my three-point shooting has gotten a whole lot better.”

After playing some power forward overseas, Moon believes he could play some small-ball four in the NBA as well because of his versatility and ability to defend multiple positions. If he lands on an NBA roster, he’s open to playing either forward position and doing whatever is best for the team.

“I feel like coming back to the NBA, I could be a pick-and-pop player – I think I could play the three or be a small-ball four,” Moon said. “I can shoot the ball and I can defend [multiple positions], so I think whatever situation a team needs me to adapt too, I think I’m the man for it. Before I made it to the league, I had to play with so many different minor league teams [in the USBL, ABA, CBA and WBA] and I played with so many different players that I had to learn how to adapt.”

Moon also feels he can provide veteran leadership to an NBA team and be a mentor for younger players. When asked if he’s willing to embrace that role and be a vocal leader, he laughs and responds, “If anything, they’ll tell me I talk too much.”

“You always need players who have been there, you always need people that have done it, the people who understand what is going on,” Moon added. “Those are the people who know how to get the job done. Every team needs a veteran at almost every position. That’s where I come into play because I played with a lot of great guys. My rookie season I played with Chris Bosh, then I went down and played with Dwyane Wade, then I was up playing with LeBron James and then I was playing with Blake Griffin. You always need a guy who has been there – that knows what’s going on and that knows the game. You need guys who know the game and are experienced.”

Going overseas, Moon realized that there were many things about the NBA that he took for granted – such as getting your paycheck on time (or at all).

“Well, going overseas [was interesting],” Moon said. “You think playing in different states here makes you a man, but going overseas, it’s a different way of life. Being on some of those teams, you might not get paid on time or you might not get paid. It helps you deal with situations better. It’s not like the NBA where everything is there when you need it. When you go overseas, you have to be on your feet over there and watch everything that is going on, listen to everything they are saying. You’ve just got to be on top of your game because you never know [what’s going to happen or if you’ll get your paycheck] because it’s so cut throat. One day you’re there, the next day you’re gone and you won’t get your money.”

Moon hopes that his days dealing with teams overseas are over and that he can finish his career in the NBA.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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