PORTLAND – Kris Joseph was working out before the Maine Red Claws’ game. But he would not be suiting up.
If the paperwork had been hurried, Joseph could have played for Maine’s opponent.
Maine traded Joseph to the Springfield Armor for power forward James Mays. Neither Joseph nor Mays was in the lineup Sunday afternoon, as the Red Claws topped the Armor 104-100 before 2,708 at the Portland Expo.
Joseph, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward and a second-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics, said he learned of the deal on Friday.
“Of course I was surprised,” Joseph said. “But I understand. It’s business.”
Joseph, 24, has learned all about the business of basketball in his rookie year. He made the Celtics roster out of preseason and bounced up-and-down between Boston and its D-League affiliate, the Red Claws. He was waived on Jan. 6, a day before the Celtics would have had to guarantee his contract for the rest of the year.
Joseph sat out a month before returning to the Red Claws last week on a D-League contract.
Mays, 26, is 6-foot-9, 230 pounds. He was averaging 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, and was recently selected to play in the D-League All-Star Game next week.
Mays did not travel on the Armor team bus to Maine, but drove himself and arrived at the end of the game. He was not available for comment.
The D-League has not officially announced the trade, so neither team would comment.
Without Mays, Springfield looked in trouble, especially against the Red Claws (19-13), who have won 7 of 8 games against the Armor (9-21).
“I would like another chance at them,” said Springfield forward Carleton Scott. “But I’m kind of tired of seeing them, too. Seems like we’re playing them every other day.”
Scott led all scorers with 26 points, 24 of them in the first half (on 6-of-8 3-point shooting).
Chris Wright paced the Red Claws with 25 points and 17 rebounds. Micah Down tallied 21 points. Shelvin Mack added 16 points and nine assists.
Scott’s shooting kept the Armor close in the first half, with Maine leading 56-50 at halftime.
While Downs covered Scott well in the second half, the Armor would not go away, playing tight defense and working the ball inside.
“We’ve played each other so much. There are no secrets out there,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “They’re a very physical team, a very aggressive team.
“It was just a grind. Sometimes it doesn’t come easy.”
Springfield’s aggressive defense sent Maine to the free-throw line 28 times. The Red Claws made 19 free throws, while Springfield was 5 for 8.
“When you shoot 20 fewer times than the other team and still have a chance to win at the end, you’ve done a pretty good job,” Armor Coach Robert MacKinnon said.
Springfield’s Ben Uzoh hit a 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left to cut the deficit to 102-100. Maine then lost the ball, but Uzoh missed an inside jumper with 2.6 seconds left. Omar Reed sank two free throws to clinch it.
NOTES: Celtics center Fab Melo did not dress for the Red Claws, returning instead to Boston for the Celtics’ game against Denver. DaJuan Summers took shots before the game but remains out because of a hamstring injury. The Red Claws are on the road for their next five games. They return to the Expo March 1 for a 7 p.m. game against the Erie BayHawks.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: