November 17, 2013

On Basketball: Chris Wright, Jermaine Taylor give Red Claws a veterans presence

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Maine Red Claws looked like they were about to allow a layup to Springfield when a blur appeared over the basket and swatted the ball away.

click image to enlarge

Coach Mike Taylor will lead the Maine Red Claws through an intrasquad scrimmage Sunday at Biddeford High.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Chris Wright is back and performing his leap-to-the-moon antics again for the Red Claws.

Wright, 25, is one of two returning players to the NBA D-League team that begins its regular season Friday at the Portland Expo.

But first, some tune-ups.

The team scrimmaged the Springfield Armor on Friday at the Boston Celtics’ training facility.

Sunday afternoon, the Red Claws will hold an intrasquad at 1 p.m. at Biddeford High. Tickets are $5 and benefit the Biddeford High athletic department.

Two of the recognizable players will be Wright, a 6-foot-8 forward, and Jermaine Taylor, a 6-4 guard who joined the team for the final eight games of last season and helped the Red Claws to their first D-League playoff appearance.

Taylor added a scoring jolt, averaging 24.4 points per game. Wright played the whole season with Maine, averaging 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds while totaling 58 blocks.

Like other top players on this year’s Maine roster, both Wright and Taylor were in NBA training camps this fall, Wright with the Toronto Raptors, Taylor with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wright was in the Raptors camp the previous year as well. A product of Dayton University, he broke into pro ball with the Red Claws in 2011-12. That season, he earned a call-up to the Golden State Warriors for 24 games.

After his recent release from the Raptors, Wright had offers for a bigger paycheck to play in foreign leagues. But he decided to come back to Portland.

“I weighed my options, looked at the different situations,” Wright said. “I felt like, for my development, for me to get back to the NBA, this was the best place to be.

“I love the city of Portland. I love this team. I like that the Celtics are working with us. This is a first-class program. There is no place I’d rather be, other than the NBA.

“Of course it’s tempting (to go to Europe). But you got to look at what’s going to be best in the long run.”

Wright’s decision is Maine’s gain.

“Chris Wright and (Taylor) are so meaningful for us because of what they did last year,” Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor said. “They established a winning culture with our team. Good players and good people. Players that we want to represent the Red Claws.”

AMONG THE STARTERS in Friday’s scrimmage, along with Wright and Taylor, were three rookies who were in NBA preseason camps – point guard Abdul Gaddy (Charlotte), forward Romero Osby (Orlando) and center Damen Bell-Holter (Boston).

AMONG FORMER Red Claws players, point guard Shelvin Mack is enjoying success, having made the Atlanta Hawks’ roster.

Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, two Celtics players last year, were both released by NBA teams. Melo was actually released twice. Memphis traded for Melo, then let him go. Dallas signed him and released him three weeks ago. Joseph was cut by the Magic and is now playing in France.

Xavier Silas was recently cut by the Washington Wizards.

DaJuan Summers and Micah Downs are teammates on a team in Kiev, Ukraine. Omar Reed is playing in Japan, and Raheem Singleton is in Canada.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH


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