OFFSEASON

Moore demonstrates growth in return to Boston

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Moore demonstrates growth in return to Boston

BOSTON -- E'Twaun Moore was surprised when he heard the news. He had been expecting to be told the Boston Celtics were picking up his contract. Instead, they informed him he had been traded to the Houston Rockets.

"I was just surprised," Moore said in his first return to the TD Garden on Friday. "Of course I didn't know it was about to happen. At the moment I was just shocked."

Moore had posted 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in his final Las Vegas Summer League game and thought he had shown enough to earn a spot on the Celtics roster this season. Even though he played limited minutes his rookie year, he demonstrated his potential when given the opportunity on the court.

The Celtics were eyeing another guard, though. They packaged Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Sasha Pavlovic, and Sean Williams in a multi-team deal that sent Courtney Lee to Boston in late July. The Rockets then waived Moore shortly after, leaving the former 55th overall pick looking for a job.

Unsure of where he would end up, Moore believed he would land on an NBA team. In September, the Orlando Magic signed him as a free agent and gave him the chance to put what he had learned out on the floor.

Moore is averaging 8.8 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game this season, including 14 points and four rebounds in the Magic's 97-84 loss to the Celtics.

"I knock down shots, play the backup point, try to help facilitate the team when I'm in," he said. "My knowledge of the game is a lot better this year. I have more of an idea of what's going on and plays teams are trying to run. From a mental standpoint, I have a better feel for what's going on."

Moore spent most of his rookie season watching the Celtics veterans from the sidelines. Now that he has the opportunity to play increased minutes, he is utilizing all the wisdom and mental notes he gained during his year in Boston.

"I'm just trying to put it all together on the court," he said.

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of six teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors, it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. They're the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens though, the Celtics are in the race. Fans might be disappointed after Thursday night, but we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA