When Abdul Gaddy recorded a triple-double for the Maine Red Claws last Sunday, Coach Mike Taylor knew what the point guard’s performance meant.
“It’s great for the attention,” Taylor said. “The Celtics have noticed beforehand and, with the triple-double, others will take notice.”
Getting noticed. It is what the D-League is all about. It is how the league sells itself to players, paying them less than half of what they could be making in European leagues.
“It’s always better across the water,” is the phrase Red Claws guard Tyler Brown used when talking about overseas teams.
Brown, 23, is a rookie out of Illinois State. He played for the San Antonio Spurs over the summer but was not invited to any NBA training camps. Instead of waiting for the D-League draft – a league that offers a top salary of $25,000 – he moved to France to play for Team Cholet in the first division.
Average salaries for American players in France’s first division are about $11,000 a month. Brown spent five months in France. The pay was attractive but the opportunity wasn’t.
“After a while I felt it was in my best interest to leave,” Brown said.
“When you go overseas, you kind of get lost unless you’re putting up big numbers,” Brown said. “You’re making good money but if your dream is to make it in the NBA, the D-League is one of those options that will get you there.”
Brown joined the Red Claws at the end of January. A month later, teammate Chris Babb was signed to a 10-day contract by the Boston Celtics, Maine’s parent club in the NBA.
“That’s a good example right there,” Brown said. “You get exposure. You get seen.”
Babb was not putting up big numbers (12-point average), but the Celtics have watched Babb in person and on tape (and the Celtics film all the Red Claws’ practices, too).
“You don’t have to go out there and score 40 points,” Taylor said. “Just go out and play your game. If the time is right and the situation is right, your opportunity will be there.”
That is what Chris Wright is banking on.
Wright, 25, is in his third season with the Red Claws. In his rookie year, in 2011-12, he was signed by Golden State and played 24 games for the Warriors. Since then, Wright has twice taken part in the Toronto Raptors’ preseason training camp.
But Wright, a 6-foot-8 forward, has not been called back to the NBA despite being a two-time D-League All-Star.
“I know it’s all about timing and opportunity,” Wright said. “Whenever my time comes, it will come. … Of course I want to make it in the NBA. I just have to stay focused on what I can do.”
So far Wright has resisted the temptation of a bigger paycheck overseas.
“I have to think, if I don’t get called up, will I come back to the D-League?” Wright said. “What do I have to do to market myself differently? But I don’t worry about that now.”
Wright, known for his fearless and usually successful drives to the basket, has also been taking more 3-pointers this season. “You’ve got to be more of a complete player,” Wright said.
A complete player who helps his team win, but also attracts interest from NBA teams, especially the affiliated Celtics.
“I know they’re paying attention,” Wright said.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: KevinThomasPPH