Austin Ainge won’t be back to coach the Maine Red Claws for a third season. He’s the latest member of the organization to make the jump to the NBA.

The Red Claws announced Friday night that Ainge will join the Boston Celtics as director of player personnel. Ainge will rejoin his father, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, at the NBA level.

Austin Ainge had previously worked as a scout for the Celtics.

“I’m very happy for Austin,” said Jon Jennings, the president and general manager of the Red Claws. “He worked very, very hard for us. His growth as a coach was terrific to watch these last two years. But Austin has always been a very keen observer of talent.

“The Celtics are fortunate to bring him back into the family, particularly at this time.”

Austin Ainge was announced as the Red Claws first head coach on July 21, 2009. He had a 45-55 record over two very different seasons.

He led a veteran squad to a 27-23 record the first season, just missing the playoffs because of a late-season slide and a tiebreaker.

Still, the team captured the interest of the city and sold out every home game. The home sellout streak continued last winter, but the Red Claws — a young team with little experience — finished just 18-32.

In those two years, three Red Claws earned promotions to the NBA.

“There’s no doubt that Austin was committed to the Red Claws,” said Jennings. “And over time, he learned how to deal with players, particularly at this level. He realized that not every one of them was going to be an NBA player, and he learned how to maximize their opportunities and potential on the floor.”

Last season’s team included seven rookies, including DeShawn Sims, who was named NBA Development League Rookie of the Year.

In a press release, Ainge said, “I truly appreciate the opportunity that the Red Claws gave me and my time in Maine tremendously. The fans in Maine are incredible and I wish the organization nothing but the best.”

He was unable to comment further.

Austin Ainge, 29, has followed his father before. He played basketball at Brigham Young University — as did his father — and was a scout for the Celtics.

“I know that after the season was over, we talked and it was obvious that (Austin Ainge) and Danny and the rest of the organization valued him when he was there as a scout,” said Jennings. “They thought it was important for him to join the Celtics.”

Jennings said the Red Claws, who are affiliated with both the Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats, have already begun a search for their next coach and that he has some candidates in mind.

“We will find the best possible coach we can,” he said.

Jennings added that the new coach has got to be dedicated to developing players and must stress defense.

He said, “We want the Red Claws to be seen (by players) as a great opportunity to develop into an NBA player.”

Jennings believes that most D-League players called up to the NBA are used as role players “at least initially.”

One way such players get noticed by NBA scouts is by playing defense.

“We’re looking for a great teacher and someone who can teach the defensive side of the game,” said Jennings.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:
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