Celtics take sole control of Red Claws

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Boston Celtics, Maine Red Claws, and the NBA Development league announced on Thursday that the Celtics and Red Claws have formed a single-affiliate partnership that will begin at the start of the 2012-2013 NBA D-League season.

The Red Claws will now be affiliated solely with the Celtics -- a relationship also referred to as a "hybrid affiliation" -- after formerly having shared their affiliation with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Charlotte Bobcats as well. The Celtics will control basketball operations for the Red Claws, making decisions on coach and player personnel and will cover the costs of basketball operations expenses. The teams have come to terms on a three-year agreement, the standard model already in place.

Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, who represented the team at the announcement Thursday morning, said he and his staff will oversee basketball operations for the Red Claws, with an emphasis on developing players while incorporating a system very similar to the one run by the Celtics.

"We're very excited about this partnership," said Ainge, joined at the press conference by D-League president Dan Reed and Red Claws chairman Bill Ryan Jr. "I think it's good to have our own coach who will be a member of our staff that will be on the same page as our head coach, Doc Rivers and his staff, running the same system, running the same defense, running the same offense, with the same goals in mind of the development, without having to share the affiliation with other teams."

The focus on development and continuity benefits both organizations. Red Claws players will be a part of a structured system that will help their overall development, while the Celtics will now be able to call up players, who will be far more familiar with their system's terminology -- an issue that has hindered the impact of players the Celtics have called up from the D-League in the past.

"The challenge is putting good people around the players that you're really dedicating yourself to develop," said Ainge. "One thing I'm excited about this year is we can have players practice with us in Boston if we do have injuries and they can come up that night and play a game in Portland and be back to the Celtics' practice the next day, because there's no limit on how many times they can come and go, and I think that is big progress for this association."

The Red Claws saw their most recent head coach, Dave Leitao, step down to serve as an assistant coach for the University of Missouri, but Ainge said a search for a replacement is already under way.

"We'd like to [hire a coach] sooner rather than later, but we've already received, as rumors of this have been leaking out, applications," said Ainge. "We have our own ideas of guys that we'd like to bring in. But we won't focus on that or hire that person in the near future."

While Maine's basketball operations will be overseen by the Celtics, Ryan and his staff will still maintain ownership, responsible for off-the-court business operations. Ryan will also serve as the team's president, taking over for Jon Jennings, who left the Red Claws recently.

The Celtics become the fifth NBA team to enter into a "hybrid affiliation" with a D-League team, joining the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers.