PORTLAND – Chris Wright wasn’t planning on being back in Maine this year.

He had spent parts of two of the last basketball seasons with the Maine Red Claws, but he was hoping that had helped earn him a move to the NBA. After a summer stint with Toronto, he was released by the Raptors.

“I thought I had a great opportunity and a great chance to make Toronto’s team, but they made a decision,” Wright said. “It’s one of those things I can’t control. I just worry about things I can. I’ve just got to keep on working.”

Jermaine Taylor has a similar story. He spent the summer and training camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead of a job in the NBA, he’s back for another season in Maine.

Between those two returnees and some promising talent on the Red Claws roster, Wright and Taylor are excited about being in Maine, despite the disappointment of being back in the D-League.

“There’s definitely a lot of talent,”  Jermaine Taylor said. “I’m excited. I’m ready to get started. We have a lot of good players. We’re loaded. We have a lot of players that can score and do a lot of different things and we can get at it and run.”

The Red Claws are coming off a 26-24 season. They finished third in the East Division and earned the first playoff berth in the franchise’s history.

“For us guys that went to the playoffs last year, it was something exciting and it’s something we can tell the guys what it’s like,” Wright said. “I think this group is really hungry and I think we have a chance to make it back. We just want to build on the momentum of last year.”

The Red Claws currently have a roster of 17 players. They play an intrasquad scrimmage at Biddeford High School at 1 p.m. Sunday and then trim the roster to 10 early in the week.

“I really like what I’ve seen here in training camp,” Red Claws coach Mike Taylor said. “I think we have a lot of good pieces. We’ve got some really talented players that are on the NBA radar.”

Taylor and Wright are two of those. Taylor has had looks by a variety of NBA teams in recent seasons , including 65 games between Houston and Sacramento. He played eight games with the Red Claws last year, averaging 24.4 points. Wright has played 24 games in the NBA with Golden State and was with Maine for 39 games last year, averaging 18.3 points and earning D-League All-Star honors.

“Chris and Jermaine will be strong players for us,” Taylor said. “Romero Osby, who we traded for draft day, and Chris Babb, who the Celtics have sent down, I think those type guys are going to be great additions and great returning players. We’re excited about what they can do this year.”

Babb, a 6-5 guard from Iowa State, participated in the Celtics preseason camp. He’s an affiliated player along with Damen Bell-Holter, a 6-9 forward from Oral Roberts, and Kammron Taylor, a 6-2 guard from Wisconsin. Corey Stokes, a 6-5 guard from Villanova, is also a returning player. He had one game with the Red Claws last year.

The roster also includes D-League draftees, Brian Barkdoll, a 7-0 center from Northwest Nazarene, Frank Gaines, a 6-5 guard from IPFW, Lester Prosper, a 6-10 forward from SUNY Old Westbury and Chehales Tapscott, a 6-6 forward from Portland State. In addition to Osby, Maine also traded for 6-1 guard Abdul Gaddy, from Washington.

“We’re trying to find the most talented players that we can,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to find guys that have the potential for NBA call-ups or guys that the Celtics have interest in developing. We’ve tried to find character players that we felt would fit in with the concepts that we’re trying to develop here.”

Taylor likes what he’s seen so far. He says the squad has good character and has ample experience. There’s athleticism on the wings and some scoring talent inside.

“I’m really pleased with the way training camp is going,” Mike Taylor said. “I think we’ve had good concentration and focus. We’ve had good character and good guys. I think everything is in place. Our house is in order. We just have to go out and test ourselves against some other teams and see where we are and see what we’ve got to get better at.”

The Red Claws are looking pretty well-balanced and that could be an improvement on recent season’s where the scoring hasn’t been consistent.

“My first year, we really struggled with the bigs,” Wright said. “Last year, it was the same thing. I think we’ve got the inside and the outside. We’ve got good bench strength and I think we’ll be able to handle our own against teams when we step on the floor.”

One factor in any developmental league is the coming and going of various players, but right now, the Red Claws feel like they’ve got a roster that could do some things.

“The hardest thing about the D-League is you never know when someone is going to be called up,” Jermaine Taylor said. “If we can keep this team for awhile, we’re going to be pretty good. We’re going to beat a lot of teams.”

It can be hard for teams to measure up to the rest of the league during training camp. Coach Taylor says his focus has been on getting his squad prepared and then see how the rest of the league looks when they open up Friday, hosting Springfield at 7 p.m. The hope is that the team can continue the progression the Red Claws experienced as a franchise last year.

“We felt great about what we accomplished last year,” Mike Taylor said. “Making the playoffs for the first time, we did a lot of good things. We had two guys that made it to the NBA and we had several guys get great jobs overseas. From our standpoint, we want to build on that and build on that tradition here.”

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