The first coach in Maine Red Claws history has a familiar last name and a family tie to one of the NBA Developmental League franchise’s parent clubs, the Celtics.
The Red Claws introduced Austin Ainge as the team’s head coach. Ainge, 27, who was most recently a scout for the Celtics, is the son of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“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 a scout with the Celtics, which included working with rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker while they were on assignment with Utah of the D-League.
Before joining the Celtics, Ainge served a stint as an assistant coach for Southern Utah University. He also 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 appearance.
“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.”
Ainge will be tasked with balancing the needs of his own team with the development needs of the Red Claws’ NBA parent clubs, the Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.
“The hiring of a head coach is a critical step in building a strong team,” said 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,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “As a player Austin has received great coaching, and you can see that in his coaching. He’s been involved in basketball most of his life. It makes perfect sense.”
Jennings, a former assistant, interviewed more than 20 candidates for the head coaching job before selecting Ainge. Ainge, who is married with two children, has no doubt he is ready for the task.
“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.”