Maine Red Claws head coach Austin Ainge is coaching the Celtics summer league team.
According to the Boston Herald, it’s not just because he’s Danny’s son, either:
“He’s the coach because Doc (Rivers) chose him to be the coach,” Danny Ainge said last night after the first of the group’s three practices. “Not me.”
He added with a smile, “I don’t know if it was in the whole transition when Doc didn’t know if he was going to be back here and didn’t know if he’d have any staff. And he knew Austin would be around for sure.
“It’ll be a good experience for Austin. I think he told Austin maybe 10 days or two weeks ago that he’d like him to coach in the summer league.”
I like this move a lot. It’s not uncommon for D-League coaches to work in the summer league, but in this case it works especially well and we’re lucky to have Austin working with the youngsters this summer.
Over the winter Austin led the ever-changing Maine Red Claws to a 27-23 record. While they fell just short of the playoffs, they tied the record for wins by an expansion team in the D-League. This on-the-court success led to off-the-court success as well, with the Claws selling out every home game and President/GM Jon Jennings being named D-League Executive of the Year. In fact, Jennings said, “We are exceedingly proud of Austin. He has worked very hard for us and we are very happy he will be returning to coach the Red Claws.” The Celtics should be happy to have him coaching for them in Orlando as well.
This fits on a number of levels. Obviously a number of the Celtics’ summer league players are likely to see D-League time next year. Draft picks Luke Harangody and Semih Erden (2008) will almost certainly be spending some time in Portland one way or another. If Boston’s unable to land a big man free agent with their mid-level exception, it may not be a lot of time, but we’ll see. Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, the end-of-the-season signings, are also probably headed to Maine. Note that first-round pick Avery Bradley is not on the summer league roster due to his injury, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Maine as well.
So this gives Austin some familiarity with players he may be seeing a lot of this winter. It also gives him even more familiarity with Doc Rivers’ system and the Celtics coaching staff. In short, this move further demonstrates that the close relationship between Maine and Boston is working out well for the Celtics, and should be a good thing for the Red Claws, Austin, and the players.