Sunday, March 9, 2014
PORTLAND — The Maine Red Claws’ roster underwent the equivalent of a seismic shift Wednesday, with four players departing for NBA training camps.
Team officials could not talk about specifics, but guard Kenny Hayes confirmed he is heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ training camp and forward Chris Wright is going to Golden State’s camp.
In addition, center Mike Tisdale and guard Antonio Anderson have been invited to a camp, though team officials could not say which one.
And guard J.R. Reynolds bought out his contract to return to play in Europe, leaving the Red Claws (1-3) with just eight players as they head into games at Springfield (tonight) and Canton (Saturday).
With the opening of NBA training camps Friday, roster moves were anticipated. But the effect is still stunning.
“Everybody talked about (the possibility of the moves) coming in, so you think you’re prepared for it,’’ said Coach Dave Leitao, “but where we’re at is unprecedented in terms of change, where so many guys are gone at once. The only solace is that every team is going through it.
“You’ve just got to make due with what you’ve got and seize the moment.’’
Hayes, who was leading the team in scoring (20.2 points), assists (5.8) and steals (1.5), said he believes the Red Claws will be fine.
The team made a couple of proactive moves, signing center Dominic Calegari last Friday and guard Maze Stallworth on Monday.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff and a great group of guys that I know are hungry,’’ Hayes said.
“Now they have their opportunity to play.’’
Jon Jennings, the president and general manager of the Red Claws, said he was searching for players Wednesday.
“We’re no different than any other team,’’ he said. “We’ve just got to deal with it and hope you make your best decisions in the best interests of the team.’’
Hayes was ecstatic about the chance to go to Cleveland’s camp. He grew up in Dayton, about 31⁄2 hours from Cleveland.
“This is a great opportunity for me,’’ he said.
“I have a chance to prove I can play at the NBA level and hopefully make the roster. It’s a big step for my career.’’
His hot start put Hayes into the NBA spotlight.
“I’m just glad that all my hard work from the summer is starting to pay off,’’ he said. “Now I’ve got to continue to grind and keep working.’’
Leitao said the biggest challenge is now making sure everyone remaining on the roster understands what they’re doing. That not only includes the newcomers but those whose roles are expanding.
“It’s an opportunity for them,’’ said Leitao, “and that’s what this league is supposed to be about.’’
But Leitao won’t use the roster shuffle as an excuse.
“You’ve got to try to win,’’ he said. “They don’t put asterisks on wins and losses. We’ll reconvene and talk about it. You stick to a few things that you know the guys can do and try to ride that out.’’
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: