Maine Red Claws announce Celtics affiliation for Portland

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PORTLAND — The Maine Red Claws NBA Development League team on Monday announced its not-unexpected affiliation with the Boston Celtics.

The Red Claws will also be affiliated with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Ever since a group of investors announced in December 2007 they were working to bring a development league team to Portland, the Celtics affiliation has been a goal. The Red Claws are owned by Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan Jr., his father Bill Ryan Sr. and former Celtics assistant coach Jon Jennings.

“This is something Jon and I have been working for since 2007,” Ryan Jr., chairman of the Red Claws, said at a Monument Square gathering.

Danny Ainge, the former Celtics star and current general manager of the Boston team, said in a prepared statement that having the D-League team “a short drive away from Boston will be an invaluable tool in the progression of our players as they strive to perfect their game and contribute at the NBA level.”

Jennings said the affiliation with the Celtics and the Bobcats means many exciting players will come to Portland to play for the Red Claws. He also pointed out that Michael Jordan is a part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

“He said he’d do his best to come up and visit,” Jennings said.

The Red Claws are scheduled to begin play the last weekend in November; the Portland Expo will be the team’s home court. The team installed a new parquet floor at the city-owned building, along with a new digital message board.

Spokeswoman Jana Spaulding said team management is interviewing candidates for head coach and plan to hire someone by the end of July. Most team members won’t be announced until November, and will be chosen from free agent camps and open tryouts at the Expo. The Celtics and Bobcats can each provide two first- or second-year players.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or