LOS ANGELES — Xavier Moon is a keeper – for at least another 10-day stint.
The Clippers said Tuesday morning that they signed the speedy point guard, who turned 27 on Sunday, to a second 10-day contract under the COVID-related hardship allowance.
In four games since he came aboard Dec. 25, Moon – a generously listed 6 feet, 2 inches – has appeared in four games for the short-handed Clippers, tallying 23 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals in 67 minutes.
In the Clippers’ 122-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, he chipped in with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals in 26 minutes – and his scoring spurt in the fourth quarter temporarily stalled Minnesota’s momentum in the only quarter the Clippers won (39-37).
Afterward, Moon reflected on this, his first opportunity to play in the NBA, a call-up spurred by the Clippers’ crowd of of players in protocols, including currently guards Luke Kennard, Brandon Boston Jr. and center Ivica Zubac, as well as head coach Tyronn Lue and assistants Jeremy Castleberry and Brendan O’Connor.
Moon called it a dream realized.
“I can’t even explain it for you,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working towards since I was small, so just to get this opportunity is huge for me, it’s huge for my family getting to watch me on TV after playing overseas these last, like, four years. It’s a dream come true for sure.”
Moon’s route to the NBA has taken him from Alabama, where he played high school basketball, to France, England, Canada, Israel and most recently, to Ontario, California – where he played this season with the Agua Caliente Clippers.
The three-time Canadian Elite Basketball League MVP said Monday at Crypto.com Arena that having had the opportunity to work in the Clippers’ system – and with some of his current teammates, such as Keon Johnson and Jay Scrubb – ahead of his initial NBA call up was proving beneficial.
“Obviously, we had a relationship because we played together,” Moon said. “So, coming here, knowing those guys and them embracing me the same way they embraced me in the G-League, so that definitely helped me come to the team.”
Moon’s uncle, Jamario Moon, also took a circuitous, international path to reach the NBA (and to the Clippers, in the 2010-2011 season). That journey inspired and emboldened his nephew, Xavier said.
“I don’t think I ever had any doubts, mainly because of what my uncle went through,” Moon said. “So I felt like if he can go through it and make it here, then I feel like I can do the same thing. Like, I’m on this journey to get here … whatever it took for me to get here, I don’t care what it was, like, I would get here. And I’m just happy that I’m here right now.”
And he’s got a job to do while he’s here, he said.
“An opportunity like this? I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Moon said. “Obviously I’m not here to play a huge role, but I’m here to play my role. So whatever they ask me to do, that’s what I’m here to do whether it’s run the team, run the offense or bring energy off the bench.
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“I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of that, and who knows what the next week holds? I don’t even know. I don’t even know what tomorrow looks like, so like I said, take it one day at a time and just being grateful for the opportunity.”
Brian Shaw, the Clippers’ acting head coach, expressed enthusiasm Monday about Moon’s NBA prospects.
“I really think he belongs in this league,” Shaw said. “He has a good feel for the game, and I think you saw that tonight. He plays hard, he gets off the ball at the right time and he competes. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit for him, but I do believe that he belongs on an NBA roster.”
On the Clippers’ roster, it turns out, for another 10 days.
He’ll be back for more: Clippers say they have signed Xavier Moon — 13 points and four assists last night — to a second 10-day contract under the COVID-related hardship allowance. pic.twitter.com/zM5YgUfFrC
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) January 4, 2022