Source: C's 'very close' to signing Daniels

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Marquis Daniels is expected back in Boston for a third year with the Celtics.The Celtics are "very close" to an agreement with free agent Marquis Daniels that should bring the versatile swingman back to Boston for a third season, according to a league source.

Daniels suffered a bruised spinal cord during a Feb. 6 visit from the Orlando Magic. After collapsing face-first to the TD Garden floor, paramedics took him from the court on an immobilizing backboard and it was later revealed that Daniels has battled spinal stenosis, a condition characterized by narrowing of the spine that left him susceptible to numbness in situations like the freak collision that day with the chest of Orlando's Gilbert Arenas.

Daniels underwent spine surgery in late March and, four months later, got clearance to resume his basketball career. The Celtics have seen the high-reward potential that a healthy Daniels can offer and the versatility he offers by playing three positions (1-2-3) during his time in green.

According to Synergy Sports data, Daniels ranked in the 96th percentile among all NBA defenders, allowing a mere .731 points per play last season. Among players with at least 250 defensive plays last season, Daniels ranked No. 1 overall with some pretty lofty company close behind including Dwight Howard (3rd, 0.735 points per play), LeBron James (7th, .762), and Tony Allen (8th, .764). Opponents shot a mere 32.9 percent against Daniels and, using that same 250 play minimum, James (4th, 33.9 percent) and Allen (6th, 34.2 percent) were chasing Daniels.

On a more lighthearted note, poor Daniels could be forced to choose his third jersey number in as many seasons with the Celtics. Despite wearing No. 7 during the 2009-10 season, his number was claimed by veteran center Jermaine O'Neal when he was inked early the following offseason. Daniels, initially not likely to return, later re-signed with team and settled for No. 8. Jeff Green later claimed that number when he was brought in at the trade deadline (while Daniels was shipped off to Sacramento in a move to free roster space). If Green, a restricted free agent, returns to Boston this season, Daniels could be left scrambling for a digit yet again.

Daniels had previously worn No. 6 during his career and, while that's certainly not available in Boston, maybe he could settle for Shaquille O'Neal's old No. 36, combining his third stint and preferred digit.

The Boston Globe first reported Daniels was close to signing with the Celtics.

[Bonus reading: Daniels archive on ESPN Boston | Good in Green | Progress for Daniels]