As if this month weren't tumultuous enough (what, with the Trey Zeigler transfer, Steven Adams' announcement of leaving for the NBA, and losing out on recruit Jon Severe and transfer Eli Carter), the offseason just got a little more difficult with news that forward J.J. Moore may be transferring out of the program.
First things first - as of now this doesn't appear to be a done deal. CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein tweeted the news but it's not been confirmed by the local sources yet. The Post-Gazette says that (as of now, anyway) Moore has not yet asked for his release or informed Jamie Dixon he wants out.
The Moore transfer rumor has been around the message boards for quite a while, but I've never been able to make much of it. Moore surely would like more minutes and has been blocked a bit by Lamar Patterson the past two seasons, but he's still seen plenty of time in my opinion. There are times over his career where I've called for him to play a bit more, but since he's a bit streaky, it's difficult to keep him on the court sometimes.
The interesting fact, of course, is that Moore has only a year of eligibility left. Zeigler transferred with only a year left, but his case was a little different. He wasn't previously at Pitt and didn't have the time invested into the program that Moore does. If Moore goes through with the transfer, he'll then have to sit out a year unless he heads down to D-II or can be granted a special waiver to play immediately. In reality, I just don't get the decision. It'd be a lot easier to understand if he had more than one year to play, but not in this case.
Moore can certainly play as a pro, even if it's not in the NBA. And it's unlikely his NBA path would get any easier by a move to a smaller school - even with better numbers.
The most likely outcome of this (again, assuming he transfers) is Moore going to a smaller program (Rivals' Matt Steinbrink says it would likely be Fordham, who just beat Pitt out for recruit Jon Severe), putting up quality numbers, but still falling short of the NBA. He could then head to the NBDL or play overseas for more money. That scenario could play out just as easily by remaining at Pitt, in my opinion, so why leave?
Moore must be pretty miserable if he is so desperate to leave that he's willing to sit out a season and potentially delay the ability to make money as a pro for a single year at another school. And even if he is able to somehow play right away, is the move really worth it for one season?
So what's the specific impact for Pitt? The move obviously would make this even more difficult for the team. Moore's minutes would need to be filled and he was, at times, a terrific scorer off the bench. He has been the team's most athletic player and regardless of what anyone else may tell you, it would be a significant loss. Moore may not be a dominant player, but he is one of the few true scorers on the Panthers. Can a freshman like Jamel Artis help to fill his minutes? Sure. But I'd much rather have an experienced senior playing like Moore than a true freshman.
The depth of the team, already a bit limited, is going to be hurt. Pitt is fortunate in that they still have Lamar Patterson at small forward, along with Durand Johnson and G/F tweener Chris Jones, a redshirt freshman. But it just hurts the depth all the way around. We've talked about Johnson possibly being able to step in to play minutes at shooting guard, but if he's Patterson's primary backup now, that goes out the window. Moore also would have been capable of playing some at power forward, but if he leaves, Pitt could have to rely largely on true freshmen Artis and Mike Young there.
Even if you don't think of it as specific positions since guys can be moved around, there's no getting around the fact that Pitt would be short of an experienced player capable of giving them 20 minutes a game. And on a team with so many open spots left as it is, that's not easy to replace.