WASHINGTON — The final 24 games of the Orlando Magic's season will serve as an extended audition for almost everyone on the team. Team officials will use the time to evaluate each player further, and the appraisals will factor into roster decisions for next season. Any players who don't fit into the team's long-term plans can use the remaining weeks to make a good impression on other teams.
Reserve guard E'Twaun Moore understands the situation.
Moore, who will turn 25 on Tuesday, is in the final year of his contract.
"I haven't been thinking about it," Moore said Monday. "I know this is my contract year. I knew it from the beginning of the year. It's been no secret or no surprise to me. I just try to go out there and play and just produce and let the game speak for itself."
Moore has produced lately.
And he'll play a significant role when the Magic face the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night at Verizon Center. Teammate Arron Afflalo won't play because of a sprained ankle, and Afflalo's absence will create additional opportunities for Moore.
Coach Jacque Vaughn values Moore's versatility. Moore can bring the ball upcourt and can play on the wing. At 6-feet-4, Moore can defend effectively against point guards and shooting guards and even can play against shorter small forwards in a pinch. Moore's defense will be important against the Wizards, who have a talented backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Moore starred at Purdue University for four years, earning spots on the All-Big Ten first team twice and leading the Boilermakers in scoring for three seasons.
But Moore hasn't complained about coming off the bench in the pros.
"A great lesson about the game of basketball at the professional level is being able to adjust to a role at the NBA level, finding a niche and what's going to keep you in the league," Vaughn said. "You can put him on different guys throughout the course of the game and offer different challenges to him throughout the course of the game, and that gives him a chance."
Moore has made the most of his chances in recent games.
He scored a season-high 17 points in Milwaukee on Feb. 18, and he scored 16 points during the Magic's 105-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.
Against the Raptors, Moore made six of his seven baskets on floaters in the lane. He made three of the floaters with his right hand. He made the other three with his left hand.
The floater has become his signature shot.
"I do put a lot of time into it," Moore said. "It's nothing I just did in a game. I practice it, getting in the lane and finishing. I'm not the most athletic [guy]. I'm not going up dunking on three people, so I've got to have an effective way to get my shot off. It's just been something that's worked for me."
Moore has taken a winding path to the Magic.
Despite his success at Purdue, he lasted in the 2011 NBA Draft until the Boston Celtics chose him with the 55th overall pick. After one season with the Celtics, the team traded him to the Houston Rockets in a four-team deal. The Rockets waived him a few days later, and the Magic signed him as a free agent.
Moore is one of the most quiet, reserved players on the Magic roster, but his teammates respect him.
"I just love to play," he said. "So anything that can help me get on the court and any way I can just go out there and play [is fine]. If I'm starting or not starting, it doesn't matter. I just love playing basketball. I like having fun with it, too."
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