When Jermaine Taylor broke camp with the Maine Red Claws last November, he couldn’t wait to get out of Portland.

He was a 26-year-old scoring guard with 65 games in the NBA under his belt. The previous March, he had set a D-League record with 20 field goals on the way to a 49-point performance during a Red Claws victory in Springfield, Massachusetts.

All he could think about was getting back to the NBA.

Then, in his second game of last season, Taylor’s immediate future unraveled when his left knee buckled after landing on a jump stop, a move he said he had made a thousand times in his career, after he got bumped in the air. His anterior cruciate ligament was a mess, required surgery and lengthy rehabilitation.

“It kind of humbled me, you know?” Taylor said Wednesday before practice inside the Portland Expo. “At that time, I was playing the best basketball I’ve ever played. I was in great shape. I was coming off a (training) camp with the (Cleveland) Cavaliers. My game was at a level it’s never been.”

As the Red Claws prepare to open the sixth season in franchise history Friday night at Oklahoma City against the Blue (the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, which moved from Tulsa), Taylor finds himself looking at life, and sport, through a different lens.

“I’m a lot wiser now,” he said. “I’m stronger, definitely, and I don’t take anything for granted anymore. Instead of focusing on the NBA, now I’m just trying to enjoy life, to have fun.”

Later Wednesday, the Red Claws cut one player – 6-foot-9 forward/center Da’quan Cook of St. Bonaventure – and set their 10-man active roster in time for Thursday’s flight to Oklahoma. They are scheduled to play Friday and then in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Sunday before returning to Maine for their home opener Nov. 21 against Canton.

League rules allow a team to carry 12 players on a roster, but may suit up only 10 for each game. Maine’s two inactive players are 6-2 guard Jason Calliste of Oregon and guard Rodney McGruder of Kansas State. A native of Toronto, Calliste has yet to join the team because of visa issues that Coach Scott Morrison, a fellow Canadian, said he expects will be resolved by next week.

McGruder, one of three players assigned to Maine by the Celtics, tweaked his groin early in Sunday’s intrasquad scrimmage.

Sunday’s scrimmage included Dwight Powell, a 6-11 rookie center out of Stanford who had been inactive for the Boston Celtics, Maine’s parent club, in their first six games. He led all scorers with 29 points and returned to Boston.

“That was kind of the idea this year, to have the systems line up between here and Boston so that guys can go back and forth with a minimal adjustment period,” said Morrison, who read remarks Powell made about the smooth transition from Celtic to Red Claw upon returning to Boston.

“That showed me we are on the right track,” Morrison said. “Hopefully, that will encourage (the Celtics) to be open to sending guys up to Maine many times throughout the year.”

Taylor scored 10 points in Sunday’s scrimmage. He’ll turn 28 next month and is the oldest player on the Red Claws’ roster.

“I’m an optimist,” Taylor said. “Everything I’ve been going through in the last two years gave me the strength to get through this injury.”

Since last seeing NBA action in 2011, Taylor has been waived by Sacramento, signed by Houston, failed his physical because of an ankle injury, failed to make Minnesota’s roster out of training camp, played in Spain, Israel and China in the same season and returned to the D-League.

“I’m real spiritual,” he said. “That was something that happened during the injury. I was able to get closer to God and just take a step back and look at my life and see how far I’ve come. It’s a blessing. I would rather have my problems than a lot of the problems that other people have.”