Sunday, March 9, 2014
PORTLAND - On the eve of today's NBA D-League draft, the Maine Red Claws busied themselves by trading for more picks while also announcing eight other players who will attend training camp, which begins Nov. 12.
WHEN: 7 tonight
WHO: 16 teams
HOW LONG: Eight rounds
RED CLAWS: Fourth overall pick, plus seven more picks
Those eight, which include three former Red Claws, two players cut from the Boston Celtics during the preseason and University of Maine guard Raheem Singleton, will be joined by the eight players drafted today.
Maine has the fourth overall pick among 16 teams in the first round, and seven more picks in the remaining seven rounds (no picks in the second, two in the fourth).
"We'll go for the best player available in the first round," Boston Celtics Director of Personnel Austin Ainge said. "After that, we may fill some holes."
Ainge will be in Portland Friday as part of the Celtics' new agreement with the Red Claws. The NBA team is in charge of staffing the D-League team with coaches and players.
To be eligible for the draft, players had to sign D-League contracts, and there are some interesting available players.
They include former Brunswick High standout Ralph Mims, America East Player of the Year Darryl Partin of Boston University, and former Celtic JaJuan Johnson.
Mims, a 6-foot-2 guard who turns 27 this month, played at Florida State University and then moved on to the pro leagues in Europe; first in Turkey, then Greece and France. At Brunswick, Mims scored 1,916 career points and, as a sophomore, led the Dragons to the 2002 Class A state championship.
Partin, a 6-5 point guard, was worked out by several NBA teams, including the Celtics, but was not drafted this past summer.
Johnson, a 6-10 forward from Purdue, was obtained by Boston from the Nets in 2010, in a draft-and-trade deal involving shooting guard Marshon Brooks. Johnson played only 36 games and was dealt this past offseason to Houston in the Courtney Lee trade.
Houston cut Johnson in preseason. According to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants expect to make Johnson the overall No. 1 pick.
After drafting fourth overall, Maine will have to wait. The Red Claws had previously traded away two picks in the 2012 draft -- in the second and third rounds -- to the Texas Legends last year for players Jerome Randle and Lawrence Hill.
On Thursday, Maine traded its 2013 third-round pick to the Bakersfield Jam in exchange for third- and fourth-round draft picks today.
"We were a little short, especially after the first pick," Ainge said in regard to the trade.
Maine already has eight players ready for training camp -- three former Red Claws, two affiliated players the Celtics sent down from their preseason camp and three players chosen from a September tryout the Celtics conducted for the Red Claws.
The three players returning to Portland are 6-5 Xavier Silas, 6-8 Chris Wright and 6-6 Champ Oguchi.
Silas played 40 games for the Red Claws last year before joining the 76ers. Philadelphia cut him before this season.
Wright played four games for Maine last year before getting called up to Golden State. Wright signed with Toronto this year, but was cut before the season.
Oguchi played 38 games for the Red Claws in the 2010-11 season. The 26-year-old played overseas last season, including a stint on the Nigerian Olympic Team.
The affiliated players are 6-8 Micah Downs and 7-foot Brian Cusworth.
Downs, 26, was one of the last players cut in the Celtics camp. A former Gonzaga player, he spent the past three seasons in Europe.
Cusworth, 28, is a former Harvard player with five seasons of international experience.
Another player cut by the Celtics, former Red Claws guard Jamar Smith, has signed with the Gilboa Galil team in Israel's pro league (the same team former Red Claws guard Kenny Hayes plays for).
Singleton, a 6-foot point guard for Maine the past two seasons, is one of the players chosen from the tryout camp, along with 6-4 Farnold Degand, who played three years for North Carolina State, and 5-10 DaQuan Brooks, a first-team Division III All-American guard with Western Connecticut State.
The Red Claws will be able to keep only 10 players once the season begins Nov. 23 with an away game in Canton.
Their home opener is Nov. 30.
Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: