Players with the Maine Red Claws are focused on building team chemistry as the franchise moves toward tip-off on its third season of play.
PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- While their NBA brethren continue their negotiations with owners to forge a new labor agreement, players in the NBA D-League are gearing up for their season as scheduled.
Thirteen players are in camp, fighting for a slot on the Maine Red Claws roster including Jefferson, Maine native Josh Jones.
"I looked everyone up of course," admitted Jones. "I was like, you know I am here for a reason. I got traded and everything, I got this contract for a reason, so I got to keep going with hard work."
Jones says he and his teammates must stay healthy, work hard and develop chemistry if they are going to reach the post season - something the team has failed to do in its first two seasons in the league.
The Red Claws 2011 first round draft pick, Chris Wright says at this point, their focus is not on where they'll be when the season ends, but on getting better each and every day individually, and as a team.
"If you worry about the playoffs right now, you would be looking too far ahead," said Wright. "Our focus is having team chemistry every single day - getting to know one another off the court because that translates to on the court."
New Red Claws head coach Dave Leitao says it is a challenge to put a team together with just two weeks of practice before the games count for real. He says he'll tailor his game plan to match his players ability, but he wants his players to be aggressive on both ends of the court.
"I like athletic teams and commit to defense and rebounding first," explained Leitao. "[I like players to] have that mentality, so if we are really structured on that end of the floor, then we can allow for some freedom, a lot of freedom, on the other end of the floor. So on offense, we put them in positions to be successful and let their talent take over."
The Red Claws start the season with two games on the road before hosting division rival Springfield for their home opener on December 3rd.