June 02, 2020
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Celtics complete purchase of the Maine Red Claws

John Raoux | AP
John Raoux | AP
Orlando Magic's Josh Magette (4) turns as his path to the basket is blocked by Boston Celtics' Tacko Fall (99) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

The Boston Celtics announced Tuesday morning that they have completed the purchase of their Portland-based Maine Red Claws G League affiliate.

Plans for the sale were first announced in July pending finalization of terms of the deal and G League approval.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but during a news conference Celtics’ president Rich Gotham said the team is happy with the Red Claws’ 3,000-seat home base at the Portland Exhibition Building.

“As long as you can accommodate a 7-foot-7 guy I think we’re in good shape,” Gotham said in reference to Celtics’ rookie center Tacko Fall, who is expected to play much of the 2019-20 season in Portland. “We’re really happy with the Red Claws as they exist, and the Expo is the place to play our games.

“We think this is the right-size venue for the Red Claws, and one of the things we’ll learn over the course of the season is where we can make investments in the team and the facility and the game experience and the fan experience to create an overall better environment.

“For the time being this is a great place for us to be and we’re committed to Maine and committed to being here,” Gotham said.

Last month officials from Worcester, Massachusetts, expressed some interest in attempting to entice the Red Claws to move to their city.

The Worcester City Council in early September passed a motion suggesting that its city manager explore the possibility of the Red Claws moving to Worcester in part because it would shorten the commute between Boston and the G League affiliate.

Worcester last year successfully attracted the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with a deal that will have the former PawSox playing in the Massachusetts city by 2021.

When Red Claws’ radio play-by-play voice Chris Sedenka asked if he would have to commute to Worcester for work, Gotham responded, “Not unless you’re getting a new job, I guess.”

The Red Claws are one of 28 G League franchises, with all but two owned and operated by their NBA parent teams.

Until the sale, the Maine team was operated by local ownership led by William Ryan Jr. in conjunction with the Celtics, who handled the basketball operations of the franchise.

The Red Claws began play in the 2009-10 season and will start their 11th year of operations with the Nov. 9 season opener against the Delaware Blue Coats in Wilmington, Delaware.

The team’s home opener follows on Nov. 15 against the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Mad Ants.

“The way the business of the NBA is going, the G League is seen as an increasingly strategic asset, not just to the teams but to the overall growth of the league and establishing the G League as really the second-best league in all of the world,” Gotham said.

“The commitment’s there from the NBA and we thought with that commitment that it would be a good time for us to really get more involved and also to take a little more control of our destiny, particularly integrating our on-the-court and off-the-court functions.”

The completion of the sale marked the second big announcement involving the Red Claws in recent days.

On Sunday the Celtics announced they had restructured Fall’s rookie contract into a two-way deal that would enable the center from Senegal and the University of Central Florida to spend 45 days with the NBA team and the rest of the 2019-20 season with the Red Claws.

Fall has become a phenom of sorts among Celtics fans since signing a free-agent contract with the team after this year’s NBA draft.

He originally signed an Exhibit 10 contract good through the summer league season and preseason camp, but that did not guarantee Fall would remain with the Celtics or Red Claws once the regular season started.

Fall averaged 7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocked shots while averaging just 12.6 minutes in five summer league games. He also shot 77 percent from the field.

Fall reportedly would be the tallest player in the NBA since 7-7 Gheorghe Mureșan in 2000.

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