Congratulations are in order for former Cougar Austin Ainge. Today he was announced as the first head coach of the Maine Red Claws, the newest franchise in the NBA Development League. Here is the official release from the Red Claws.
Austin Ainge Named Red Claws Head Coach
PORTLAND, ME — The Maine Red Claws, presented by Quirk Chevrolet, today introduced Austin Ainge as the team's head coach. The announcement was made by Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings and team Chairman Bill Ryan, Jr. Ainge, 27, who was most recently a scout for the Boston Celtics, becomes the first head coach in team history.
"I have always been intrigued by new ideas and innovation," said Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings. "Austin Ainge brings that to our team. He blew me away with his ability to analyze players and game strategy. When I was a young coach with the Celtics, video was the new revolution. Today, it's statistical analysis. Austin brings that to a whole new level. Combine that with his ability to develop players and his background, and he is going to be a fantastic head coach."
Ainge spent last season as scout with the Boston Celtics, where among his duties he was charged with working with Celtics rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker while they were on assignment with Utah of the NBA Development League.
Prior to joining the Celtics, Ainge served a stint as an assistant coach for Southern Utah University where he was responsible for perimeter players, recruiting, player development, video breakdown, and developing game plans. Prior to coaching, he had a successful playing career at Brigham Young University, where he was a two-year captain, leading BYU to two Mountain West Conference championships, three NCAA tournaments and one NIT appearances. Before playing at BYU, Ainge put his basketball career on hold and served a two-year mission in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The son of Celtics' legend Danny Ainge, Ainge and his wife Crystal have two sons, Andre and Finley.
"I have had the unique opportunity to be on many sides of this business," Ainge said. "A main focus for me, as I have drawn from each situation, is talent evaluation. That includes both as the team is being assembled and during the season. As a coach, you must focus on which plays to call and what defensive adjustments to make, but even more important is which players are your best players and which lineups are playing the best together. Evaluating your own players and lineups is paramount, and using statistical analysis is a big help in making more accurate evaluations."
Ainge knows that he is stepping into an organization that is already considered one of the top organizations in the NBA D-League. The team currently leads the league in revenue and season ticket sales at 1,050 seats sold.
"I am thrilled to be joining the Maine Red Claws as head coach," said Ainge. "I believe we are at the beginning of building something great for the Portland community and the NBA D-League. I am very excited about the combination of the tradition of the Expo, combined with the new floor and improvements that will be done to the building. I have a vision in my head of a packed and loud Expo with our players diving for loose balls and shouting to call out their defensive positions over the crowd noise. With the initial excitement in the state of Maine, I expect our team to have the best home court advantage in the league."
Ainge will be tasked with balancing the needs of his own team with the development needs of the Red Claws? NBA parent clubs, the Charlotte Bobcats and Boston Celtics. Both teams have been supporters of the Red Claws organization and the staff GM Jon Jennings has assembled.
"The hiring of a head coach is a critical step in building a strong team," said Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins. "We look forward to our relationship with the Red Claws, and we wish Austin and the organization much success this season."
"Austin will be a great communicator and teacher," said Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers. "As a player Austin has received great coaching, and you can see that in his coaching. I think this is a great start for Austin. He's been involved in basketball most of his life. It makes perfect sense."
The Red Claws job was among the most sought-after available coaching positions. Team President and General Manager Jon Jennings interviewed more than 20 candidates for the head coaching job before ultimately selecting Ainge as the team?s inaugural head coach.
"The number of qualified candidates who sought out the Maine Red Claws? head coaching job is a testament, I think, to what we have built here, to the strength and stability of the organization and the excitement that surrounds it," Jennings said. "In Austin Ainge, we have chosen the best coach for the team and organization that we want to build. The one thing our supporters can be sure of is that we have promised that the Maine Red Claws will be the best the D-League has to offer, on and off the court. Today is a huge step in that direction."
MAINE RED CLAWS: 2009-10 will mark the inaugural season for the Maine Red Claws who will play their home games at the 3,000-seat Portland Expo Building. The team is the NBA D-league affiliate of the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats; both teams can assign their first and second year players to Maine. The franchise is owned and operated by Maine Basketball, LLC, which is principally owned by Bill Ryan Sr., the chairman of TD Banknorth Group, and Bill Ryan Jr., owner and operator of Oxford Plains Speedway. Jon Jennings, a partner in Maine Basketball, LLC and former Boston Celtics assistant coach, serves as the team?s president and general manager.
NBA Development League: The NBA Development League, founded in 2001, is the NBA?s official minor league and featured 16 teams with direct affiliations to NBA teams during the 2008-09 season. This fall, two new NBA D-League teams will begin play in Portland, ME and Springfield, MA ? the birthplace of basketball. Eighty-four former NBA Development League players were on 2008-09 NBA end-of-season rosters, amounting to almost 20 percent of NBA players, and the league continues to develop coaches, referees, and front office staff for the NBA and its teams. In fostering the league?s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA D-League Cares programs. The NBA D-League also advances the game of basketball as the research and development arm of the NBA. Throughout the season fans can watch all NBA D-League games on NBA Futurecast, the free live Web-streaming initiative found at nba.com/futurecast.