Training camp for the ninth season of Maine Red Claws basketball began Monday at the Portland Expo, as 15 players gathered under the watchful eyes of nearly as many coaches.

Maine can dress 10 players without NBA contracts for each G League game. Brandon Bailey, who took over from Scott Morrison as coach of the three-time defending Atlantic Division champion, ran the first practice with help from seven assistants.

“I wanted it really to be five people, especially in my first season,” Bailey said of his coaching staff, “but the thing that people who have G League experience keep telling me is you can never have enough help. All these guys have a lot of energy. They all bring something different.”

Morrison, now an assistant to Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics, had three assistants in each of his first two seasons with the Red Claws, then had seven last winter.

Bailey, 32, rose through the ranks of the Celtics’ video department to earn the opportunity for his first head-coaching job. He made clear Monday that his top priority is defense, and that his lead assistant, Alex Barlow, a former Butler point guard for Stevens who had been serving in Boston’s video room, will direct the offense.

“Brilliant mind,” Bailey said of Barlow. “His basketball IQ is off the charts.”

The other five assistants are Evan Bradds (played at Belmont last year but tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Indiana Pacers), Henry Domercant (played overseas for 12 years), Nick Friedman (video and player development for league rival Rio Grande Valley), Allen Harris (Virginia State assistant), Brooks Sales (played at Villanova and then overseas) and Pierre Sully (played overseas).

“These are dynamite people,” Bailey said. “Whether it’s a video room, internship in a front office, these guys should all be (qualified for) something like that in the NBA next season if I do my job right and develop them.”

A new name is one of several wrinkles for the NBA’s development league, formerly known as the D-League. The playoff format has changed from eight teams advancing through best-of-three series to 12 teams (four with first-round byes) playing a tournament-style single-elimination bracket until a best-of-three championship.

Another wrinkle is two-way players. Each NBA team can sign two players to such contracts, which allow for up to 45 days with the parent club (while earning a pro-rated share of the $815,615 league minimum) but most of the season in the G League, where their salary is $75,000 (three times the norm).

Two-way players don’t count against the NBA roster of 15 nor the G League roster of 10. The Celtics signed rookies Kadeem Allen, a point guard from Arizona, and Jabari Bird, a shooting guard from California, to the hybrid contracts.

Allen worked out Monday with the Claws. Bird, who played 14 minutes Friday night against the 76ers in Boston’s first victory of the season, remains with the Celtics.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Allen, selected 53rd last spring by the Celtics, “especially for guys in my situation who didn’t get drafted high.”

That leaves 14 players competing for 10 roster spots, but four of those, designated as affiliate players, are guaranteed jobs. Daniel Dixon, L.J. Peak and Andrew White all took part in Celtics training camp, and Daniel Ochefu was signed 11 days ago after being cut from Washington.

Ochefu, a 6-foot-11, 245-pound center who was a starter on Villanova’s NCAA title team in 2016, is the tallest player on Maine’s roster. He played 19 games with the Washington Wizards last season.

So the real competition comes down to the remaining 10 players, fighting for six spots. Guard Malcolm Miller, who played 22 games for the Red Claws last season, is the only holdover.

“It’s kind of weird right now but it’s fun,” Miller said. “We’ve got a good group of guys. I like the energy. I’m just excited to start already.”

Forwards Jonathon Holmes (Canton) and Devin Williams (Greensboro) have a season of G League experience; the Claws acquired their rights through trades.

Three players arrived via Saturday’s league draft: Chris Flemmings (seventh overall), Leron Barnes (44th) and Jordan Price (71st). The other four – Josh Adeyeye, Drew Barham, Trey Davis and Jerome Seagears – earned invitations from tryout camps.

Monday was the first of eight practices the Claws will conduct before opening Nov. 3 at the Expo against Delaware.

“There’s a lot of scrambled eggs out there right now,” Bailey said after practice, “but we’re not trying to be really good on the 23rd. We’re trying to be really good on the 3rd and as we go through the season.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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