Flexibility is important when you’re the coach of a D-League franchise. Take Scott Morrison, the league’s Coach of the Year after leading the Maine Red Claws to a 35-15 record and top playoff seed last winter.

Heading into the first two games of the season last weekend in New York and Ohio, Morrison drew up three rotations, depending on which players (if any) the parent Boston Celtics decided to send Morrison’s way.

“We ended up using two out of the three,” said Morrison, who welcomed swingman James Young and power forward Jordan Mickey for the opener, and point guard Terry Rozier just before the team’s first victory at Canton.

“It kind of throws you off a little bit that way, but it’s one of those problems that you like to have because obviously they’re real good players and they can contribute.”

All three young Celtics are expected to be in town Friday night as the Red Claws make their home debut at the refurbished Portland Expo against the newest D-League team, Raptors 905, a franchise affiliated with Toronto but located in nearby Mississauga, Ontario.

The number refers to the area code of suburban Toronto.

Last season the Celtics wound up sending six players to the Red Claws at various times to get them more playing time. Young was the most frequent visitor, suiting up 17 times for the Claws.

Portland fans should expect to see more of Young this season, with NBA rookies Mickey, Rozier and R.J. Hunter.

The Celtics have a 15-man roster but only 13 players active for any particular game, so if the team avoids injuries the guys who are lowest on the depth chart won’t see much playing time.

Sending them 100 miles up to Portland has been a simple way to keep them sharp and continue their progress.

“I think it’s been a pretty good system so far, the way the Celtics and (Red Claws) do it,” Morrison said. “They can only dress 13 so that means two guys aren’t playing, no matter what. Obviously we always hope the Celtics are healthy. That would potentially mean we would have more of an opportunity to have those guys with us.”

Four players who were with Morrison last year have returned to the Claws: Omari Johnson, Andre Stringer, Ralph Sampson III and Davion Berry.

Four more joined Morrison at Boston’s preseason training camp before signing with the Claws: Levi Randolph, Corey Walden, Coty Clarke and Malcolm Miller.

Miller, a rookie out of Holy Cross, said the Red Claws don’t miss a beat when a player or players from the Celtics join them.

“The great thing is we’re modeling our offense a lot after the Celtics’ offense,” Miller said. “So when they come in, it’s a smooth transition.”

Last season’s league MVP, Tim Frazier, won an NBA job with the Portland Trail Blazers as a backup point guard. Another Red Claws veteran, Chris Babb, decided this week to play in Germany after being waived last month by Golden State.

Berry, Walden and Stringer inherit the playmaking duties handled so well last season by Frazier, who averaged 9.5 assists per game and turned four triple-doubles.

“We have enough guys that can get in the paint and create (shots) for others,” Morrison said. “Now we’ve got to get guys finishing.”

Whether the current blend of old and new can put together another playoff run remains to be seen. The first clues come Friday night.

“I think we’re going to be competitive if we defend and rebound,” Morrison said. “But we’re going to have to shoot the ball better than we did (40.9 percent from the field) the first two games.”


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