It was the worst-kept secret in NBA Development League circles, but it became official Monday: The Maine Red Claws are now affiliated directly with the Boston Celtics.

“We’re thrilled to be part of what they’re doing in Boston right now,” Maine Red Claws President and GM Jon Jennings said during a conference call Monday. “We’ve had ongoing discussions with the Celtics all along, and today is just the formalization of it all.”

“We’re very excited about all of this, too,” Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said. “The Development League has been fantastic for us. We’ve been fortunate to have a team working with us, but at the same time it was difficult because we haven’t had a team in close proximity to Boston. We’re thrilled to have a partner so close, and we’re excited to partner up with the Red Claws.”

The expansion Maine Red Claws will play their home games at the Portland Expo beginning in November.

Boston won’t be the Red Claws’ lone NBA affiliate, though. The partnership also includes the Charlotte Bobcats.
“Even though we’re going to be an expansion team, we think we’ll be able to win some games playing good defense,” Jennings said, “and we like the aggressive style defense the Celtics play.”
Because there isn’t a heated rivalry between Charlotte and Boston, and because the two teams play in different divisions within the Eastern Conference, Ainge said forming this kind of partnership can only help the players on the team down the road.
“I think the coach of this D-League team will be able to pull knowledge and information from two great coaches,” Ainge said. “A coach has to have his own system, and in this case, he can take the best from two great coaches in Doc Rivers (Celtics) and Larry Brown (Bobcats). He doesn’t have to run the same exact plays or systems that the Celtics do.”
The decision on a coach, meanwhile, is still forthcoming.
“I’ve probably interviewed between 20 and 25 coaches now,” Jennings said. “Danny’s been a great resource, too.”
Ainge said he’d recommended “about six” coaches for consideration.
“From the beginning, we’re looking for a coach who’s progressive,” Jennings said. “For lack of a better term, we want a coach with a more modern outlook. We also are looking for a person completely committed to the Red Claws, but who also understands we have a commitment to Boston and to Charlotte.”
Jennings also announced Monday that current research shows the Red Claws to date have sold more season tickets than any other NBA D-League team for next season.

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