September 29, 2013

On Basketball: Everything's good for the Red Claws' coach

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WALTHAM, Mass. - Mike Taylor looked energized Saturday, walking around in the comfortable environment of a gymnasium, filled with the sounds of basketballs bouncing and sneakers squeaking.

Taylor, entering his second year as coach of the Maine Red Claws, oversaw a tryout Saturday at the Boston Celtics' training facility (the Red Claws are the D-League affiliate of the Celtics).

You wouldn't know Taylor had just returned from the Czech Republic, where he helps coach a team. That gig followed a stint with the Celtics' summer league team. He also was married over the summer.

"Very busy, but a great ride personally and professionally," Taylor said. "It's all good. I have a lot of personal momentum right now."

That momentum will take him into the Celtics' training camp next month, where he will help out before coming to Maine.

The Red Claws' season begins Nov. 22 with a home game against Springfield.

Last season was Maine's first as the sole affiliate of the Celtics. Taylor's charge was to teach the Celtics' system to the Red Claws.

That job changes slightly because Boston has a new coach, former Butler coach Brad Stevens replacing Doc Rivers.

"To get to be around Doc was a fantastic learning experience," Taylor said. "Now with Brad coming in here, arguably the best young coach in America, for us to spend time with him and his staff, it's a wonderful experience.

"I'm really excited about seeing basketball from the Brad Stevens perspective.

"Our role is the same. Our role is to develop a culture to help the Celtics, and to help them develop players."

NBA teams can send up to three players from their roster to their D-League affiliates. Last year, Celtics rookies Fab Melo and Kris Joseph often played for the Red Claws.

MELO AND Joseph are now with other teams.

Joseph was traded last season to Brooklyn. Melo finished the year with the Celtics.

Joseph was actually traded back to Boston in the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deal but was then released. He has been invited to the Orlando Magic training camp.

Melo was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason but was released two weeks later. The Dallas Mavericks have invited him to their camp.

COLTON IVERSON might have been a prime candidate to play in Maine but he's not coming, according to Taylor.

Iverson, a second-round draft pick by Indiana (and traded to Boston), is a 7-foot center from Colorado State.

Taylor said Iverson is getting his initial pro experience by playing in Turkey.

THE CLAWS' roster will begin taking shape in November when Maine finds out what eligible players are interested in playing in the D-League, including former players who will attend NBA camps.

The D-League draft will take place Nov. 1.

AMONG THE 25 players invited to try out Saturday for a spot in the Red Claws' training camp was former Cheverus High center Kyle Robbins of Falmouth. Robbins, 6-foot-11, joined the Red Claws late last season as a practice player.

Robbins, who played his college ball at the University of Chicago-Illinois, also has an offer to play in Russia.

TWO TRYOUT hopefuls took part in training camp last year -- guards Daquan Brooks and Corey Almond. Both were cut before the season began.

One player who came out of last year's tryout to make the team, Raheem Singleton, is now playing pro ball in Canada. Singleton, a former University of Maine guard, was on the opening-day roster for Maine last year but was cut a week later.

He remained for a few months on the practice squad.

RED CLAWS assistant coach Tunde Adekola is returning for a second year. His fellow assistant from last season, J.P. Clark, is now the Los Angeles Clippers' assistant player skills coach.

Clark was replaced by Ronald Nored, a former Butler University player who played under Stevens.

AN OPEN TRYOUT will be held for the Red Claws from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 12 at Scarborough High School. See the team's website (www.maineredclaws.com) for details.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

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