Boston Celtics: Marquis Daniels

Report Card: Marquis Daniels

June, 16, 2012
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesIt's gotta be the (neon) shoes: Marquis Daniels skies for a slam this season.
Over the three weeks leading up to the start of the new league year on July 1, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2011-12 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the fourth in the series of report cards:

Player: Marquis Daniels  
2011-12 averages: 3.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 12.7 mpg
2011-12 salary: $1.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Marquis Daniels?

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    11%
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    41%
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    35%
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    10%
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    3%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,751)

Season in a paragraph: After his 2010-11 season ended with a frightening spine injury, Daniels underwent surgery and made a rather remarkable return to action this season. Alas, Daniels never really found his old form and, unable to consistently win the confidence of coach Doc Rivers, a common thread in three seasons in Boston, he played only a minor on-court role. It should be noted, however, that Daniels quietly remained a solid teammate, joining forces with Keyon Dooling and "Flexin" his way through the playoffs.

Season highlight: Rivers played a hunch in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, giving Daniels 17 minutes of floor time in a must-win situation, and he responded with nine points (on 4-of-6 shooting) and five rebounds (then landed at the postgame podium to explain a big night that aided a 101-91 triumph). If Daniels could consistently provide that sort of spark, he'd be a rotation player on any team in the league given his size and defensive abilities.

Season lowlight: Daniels dealt with sporadic floor time, logging a whopping 28 DNPs while appearing in only 38 regular-season games. A span from early February into March might have been the hardest to endure, as he sat out 11 of 16 games (and logged a mere 29 minutes in those other five games). Daniels struggled to finish around the basket at times this season and confidence, again, seemed to be the issue (in his own play, and that of Rivers in him).

Final grade: D+

Teacher's notes: In a way, we feel like we're being harsh given that Daniels was coming off a pretty scary injury and expectations were probably low to begin with. Offensively, Daniels was hard to watch. According to Synergy Sports data, he scored 121 points on 180 possessions (0.672 points per play, shooting just 36.2 percent), which ranked him in the ninth percentile among all NBA players. Defensively, he wasn't quite the lockdown defender he had been during the 2010-11 season, but he was solid, allowing a mere 0.775 points per play (81st percentile, according to Synergy). Here's the thing: When Daniels played well, it left you yearning for more, and wondering why he couldn't consistently do that. But he never gave Rivers a reason to give him consistent time and that's reflected in his grade.

What's next?: After three one-year deals (and three different jersey numbers), this is probably the end of the Marquis Daniels era in Boston, particularly if the team brings back Mickael Pietrus, another defensive-minded wing. Daniels has value and could thrive in the right situation. It just doesn't seem like it can consistently happen in Boston. His defense can help a team and he still has occasional bursts of offense triggered when he's an active cutter.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Daniels' 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Elsa/Getty ImagesCeltics reserve guard Keyon Dooling offers support to his teammates from the sideline.
BOSTON -- You might have spotted Celtics reserves Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels offering some emphatic sideline support this season. It seems to have been magnified in the postseason as TV broadcasts often have showed them doing some sort of two-armed fist-pump to celebrate a Boston run.

"We’ve been doing that throughout the course of the season, it’s just magnified throughout the playoffs," Dooling said. "It’s something that kind of gets us going. We put two fists in the air and kind of pump our fists a little bit -- just something to let our guys know that we are cheering for them, we’re rooting for them. We've got their back."

After Boston's Game 1 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday night at TD Garden, a reporter suggested that it looked like the players were doing chin-ups, Dooling chuckled.

"Well, if you’ve seen my body, you’d know I haven’t done too many chin-ups," he deadpanned.

Dooling admits the celebration could use a name. Someone asked Daniels about it on Twitter a couple of days back and he said simply it was a, "Florida thang," a reference to how Dooling (Fort Lauderdale) and Daniels (Orlando) are both natives of the Sunshine State. (Maybe that would be a good name for the celebration?)

Dooling said to ask about a name again down the road.

"What we're going to do is we're going to decide on the name and you can ask me next time," he said.

Your turn: Got a good name for the sideline celebration? Sound off in the comments.

Update, 9:42 p.m.: Well, go ahead and close the ballot box...

http://twitter.com/#!/Marquis_Daniels/status/201849885513891840

Late-game mix-up doesn't hurt C's

May, 11, 2012
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Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireMarquis Daniels (4) got caught in a mismatch with Al Horford (15) late in Game 6.
BOSTON -- Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels played a mere 7 seconds in Thursday's 83-80 triumph over the Hawks in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at TD Garden. Fair or not, it was nearly a goat-worthy performance as Daniels was forced to foul Al Horford to prevent an easy basket in the final seconds. Horford missed one of the two free throws with a chance to tie the game and Boston escaped with the narrow win.

As Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained, Daniels should never had been in that position.

"We wanted to go small with one big," Rivers said of the personnel swap that saw Daniels replace Brandon Bass in the final moments. "The mistake we made -- and we were trying to scream (to alert the players) -– Marquis should’ve been guarding the ball out of bounds, and Kevin (Garnett) should’ve been on (Al) Horford. They got mixed up, and we got lucky.”

The Celtics actually got lucky twice. After Daniels initially subbed in, he matched up with Horford with the ball being inbounded below the baseline. With a foul to give, Daniels got whistled for playing the role of offensive lineman as Horford tried to muscle his way toward the hoop.

If Daniels was out of position, the Celtics didn't correct it after the whistle. Again Daniels defended Horford coming out of the stoppage in play and Josh Smith alertly noticed the mismatch. Smith lobbed a perfect feed to Horford in the circle with the Hawks down 2 with 2.3 seconds to go, but Daniels this time gave a hard (and clean) foul while making sure Horford didn't get up a shot.

Horford missed the first of two freebies, essentially preventing a chance at overtime.

"We were going to try to just get the ball to Joe (Johnson) in the middle and just let him operate," Hawks coach Larry Drew said of the original play-call in the late-game situation. "Josh had the awareness of the matchup and got it over the top. Then Al got fouled, and he just did not put them down. I thought that was a heads-up play for Josh, in terms of who they had on Al that he would pass over the top. He just didn’t make the free throws at the end.”

While the Celtics put Daniels in a tough spot, teammate Keyon Dooling said it spoke volumes the way Daniels mad smart decisions despite limited floor time this season.

"For a guy that’s 210 pounds to be able to stop a guy who’s 270 pounds from going up, not letting him get the shot up -- and you know he sat the whole game -- it’s just a testament to (Daniels) being a true professional, always being ready to go, every time his name is called," said Dooling. "No matter if it’s at the peak of the game, the climax of the game, he’s just ready to step up and he made a great play in fouling Al Horford there."

'Meaningless' game important to subs

April, 25, 2012
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BOSTON -- The immediate meaning of the Celtics' bout with the Heat on Tuesday might not have been crystal clear. Paul Pierce returned to action, but he was not joined by Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen, which immediately categorized the game as a near-meaningless, end-of-the-season, grind-it-out affair.

But the Celtics knew that home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason against the Atlanta Hawks was still on the line, as was a resurgence in rhythm and confidence for a host of reserve players -- players who might not have made an overwhelming impact throughout the regular season, but who have the potential to make a game-changing play or even a game-winning shot at some point in the postseason.

So for the likes of Sasha Pavlovic, Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling and E'Twaun Moore, it was all the more rewarding that they were the ones to turn the tide in Boston's favor and help the Celtics turn an ugly, disjointed struggle into an important 78-66 victory.

[+] EnlargeMarquis Daniels
Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesMarquis Daniels was the Celtics' most consistent player, contributing a key dunk in the fourth quarter.
Pavlovic finished with a game-high 16 points, overcoming some first-half struggles. Moore chipped in seven points and seven rebounds playing the backup point guard spot, and Daniels added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

"These games are still important," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We pretty much know our rotation, but someone else is always going to help you in the playoffs, and games like this can give you confidence. That was huge for Sasha, especially in the fact that Sasha really struggled in the first half, and then he came in the second half and played terrific. I thought for E'Twaun, just playing that amount of minutes at the point guard position was good for him.

"Every year someone who plays a little bit comes in in the playoffs and has a big game for you. Marquis, again, so all those guys, I thought the game was very important for."

Pavlovic played less than seven minutes in the first half, missing both of his field goal attempts, but rallied in the final quarter, scoring 12 of his 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a pair of 3-point daggers from the left wing that helped stretch Boston's lead for good.

"I just had open shots and I took them without thinking at all, and it's a good thing they went in," Pavlovic said.

Meanwhile, Daniels was one of Boston's only consistent producers for the entirety of the game. While his teammates struggled mightily to score, Daniels produced a first-half high of eight points to go with five rebounds, and added five points and three assists in the finale quarter, including a steal at half court and a breakaway dunk with just more than nine minutes remaining that gave the Celtics their first fourth-quarter lead at 54-52.

"I'm just trying to make sure I'm ready when my number's called," Daniels said, when asked about his productive night. "Staying after late, getting a workout in, coming in early, getting a workout in. Just taking advantage of the time that I get."

Rivers said Pavlovic, Daniels, Moore and Dooling all fall into "that bowl of guys" who have the potential to make a significant impact come playoff time. Dooling, who finished with 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting despite being hit with an unintentional James Jones elbow and sustaining a cut under his right eye, acknowledged the need for guys in Rivers' imaginary bowl to remain ready throughout the postseason.

"Every game is important, if not for seeding, for self-confidence," said Dooling, sporting a hefty bandage beneath his right eye after sustaining a cut in the second quarter. "We don't know who will be in the rotation, but these games are good for us because in the playoffs, they take away from the first three options, and so there's going to be opportunities for a lot of guys who may be the fourth or fifth option to step up.

"Whether it's Sasha, whether it's me, whether it's [Mickael Pietrus], we don't know who it'll be. On any given night it could be somebody different. But we know we possess the tools to be able to be successful."

C's close on big man?

March, 19, 2012
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters at the team's morning shootaround in Atlanta on Monday that Boston is getting closer to adding a big man.

"We're close with a couple of free agents that we've looked at, but we'll see," Rivers said, according to the Boston Herald.

If something is imminent, don't expect it to be Ronny Turiaf, whose agent Mark Bartelstein indicated this afternoon that his client must still navigate the waiver process after being released by the Nuggets, then could take some time to assess his options with the goal of signing with a top contender.

That's not to rule out Boston as a potential landing spot and Turiaf drew immediate interest from the Green. But it's clear that Bartelstein is expecting numerous opportunities for his client and that could drag out the process.

As for a report earlier this week that said Bartelstein believes client Marquis Daniels is a buyout candidate, the agent noted Monday that it's merely a possibility depending on what the team envisions for Daniels' role moving forward and that the situation should play itself out this week. After struggling to get on the floor since late January, Daniels chipped in 8 points in 20 minutes of floor time in Denver.

Confab with coach sparks 'Quis

January, 17, 2012
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AP Photo/Bob LeveroneDoc Rivers and Marquis Daniels engaged in a little chat recently about Daniels' role.
BOSTON -- When Doc Rivers and Marquis Daniels sat down recently for a short discussion, the coach's message to the player was simple: Get back to doing what you do best.

"[He told me] just be myself out there, just play," Daniels said following Boston's 97-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. "Go out there and play basketball. Stop thinking so much, and just play the game.

"He was basically just telling me what he wanted me to do more, to just stop thinking and just play basketball when I get out there. Just do what I'm capable of doing."

Rivers' focus over the last week has been all about his players reassuming the individual roles that will make themselves -- and ultimately his team -- successful. For Daniels, that meant getting back to his basics: Cutting to the basket, scoring in the paint, rebounding, and creating opportunities for his teammates. He garnered 12 minutes of action in Monday's loss -- his first stint of double-digit minutes since a home win over the Nets earlier this month -- and followed through on the conversation he had with his coach.

Daniels finished with four points and six rebounds, providing a small lift to his club as it was waning midway through the second quarter. Daniels scored all of his points and scooped up half of his rebounds in that frame, with his first basket knocking the Thunders' double-digit lead (27-17) back down to singles. Daniels grabbed a Daequan Cook miss and went coast to coast, weaving his way through the Thunder's transition defense, and put in a layup on the right side. Two minutes later, after missing a layup that was recovered by Jermaine O'Neal, Daniels hung around the basket on the right baseline and went in for another layup off of a feed from Brandon Bass.

His box score figures might not be overwhelming, but the brief flashes were a welcome return of the Daniels who is capable of impacting a basketball game in a variety of ways. For starters, he was back to initiating his offense close to the basket. And his ability to go unnoticed behind the defense along the baseline to generate easier baskets has always been a hallmark of his since coming to Boston.

(Read full post)

'Quis confident despite obstacles

January, 12, 2012
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Rocky Widner/Getty ImagesCeltics swingman Marquis Daniels.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Marquis Daniels is once again flying under the radar, even though he didn't plan it that way.

You know how it goes: Out of sight, out of mind. Daniels hasn't impacted a Celtics box score in over a week, thanks to virtually every road block that can stand in a player's way. He suffered through a head-scratching 0-for-7 shooting performance in last Wednesday's 89-70 victory over the New Jersey Nets, in which he missed six shots less than 9 feet from the rim. He then came down with an undisclosed illness that kept him out of practice Monday and Tuesday before a random flurry of painful migraines, coupled with the debut of Mickael Pietrus, kept him glued to the bench for the entirety of Boston's 90-85 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.

He hopes the physical ailments are behind him now, but Daniels still needs to shake off the rust. His main comfort is the fact that, during that victory over the Nets, all of Daniels' misses came on shots that he likes to take, and typically makes, including a number of very makeable layups.

As a result, he still boasts the same confidence level he did before the sudden rash of adversity.

"I definitely never lose my confidence," Daniels said following the Celtics' practice at the Celtics Training Center at HealthPoint on Thursday. "Those are things that happen in the game. You're going to miss shots. You've just got to be ready to take the next one and be willing to try to make it count. I'm just looking forward to my next time, my next shot, and just making everything count, just keep playing hard."

"I don't care if I go 0-for1,000, I'll still keep my confidence. I've always got to be looking forward to the next shot and be ready for whenever my time comes."

(Read full post)

Doc not down on birthday boy Daniels

January, 7, 2012
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyCeltics swingman Marquis Daniels.
BOSTON -- Marquis Daniels is celebrating his 31st birthday Saturday. But his recent struggles on the court might detract from the festivities.

After an improbable return to the NBA court this season following offseason spine surgery, Daniels has slipped into a recent funk, connecting on just 7 of 32 attempts (21.9 percent) over the last six games. In fact, he's missed his last eight shots, including all seven attempts against the Nets on Wednesday. Daniels played only eight minutes in Friday's loss to the Pacers, looking uncertain at times of his shot, and misfiring on the only attempt of the night.

For his part, Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't seem overly concerned at the moment, noting how the offseason surgery and lack of a preseason has worked against Daniels. And asked about his 0-for night against the Nets, Rivers cracked, "He blew five layups the other night, so we did a layup drill [Friday morning] just for him."

Turning more serious, Rivers added, "He'll be OK. He's playing hard and he's trying to do things the right way. When you miss as many games as he missed [last season after the freak spine injury in February] and you don't have the luxury of a preseason, it's hard."

Daniels' offensive woes are impossible to ignore. According to Synergy Sports data, he is averaging a mere 0.571 points per play (a possession ending in shot attempt, turnover, or generated free throws). That ranks in just the 4th percentile league wide (and Synergy grades him out as "poor" thus far). Daniels typically thrives as a cutter, but the majority of his shots right now are coming in spot-up situations (which might just be an indication of the second unit's lack of continuity overall). All that said, the Celtics don't necessarily need much from Daniels offensively. He simply needs to get back to 2010-11 caliber defense.

Last season, Daniels graded out as one of the league's best defenders during his shortened campaign. This season, he's been solid, allowing 0.825 points per play, but that lands him in the 53rd percentile and Synergy grades him as merely "good." Daniels is struggling a bit in defending 1-on-1 situations, but you expect that could improve as he gets more comfortable on the floor.

Even with Mickael Pietrus nearing his Boston debut, Daniels is a valuable asset to Boston for his ability to play three positions, including a shooting guard spot that no one has really grasped the reserve role of behind Ray Allen. When healthy and productive, Daniels remains an impact player for the Celtics.

A healthy holiday for Daniels

December, 21, 2011
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AP Photo/Bob LeveroneCeltics coach Doc Rivers is excited to be coaching Marquis Daniels again.
Less than a year removed from spinal surgery, Marquis Daniels has worked his way into a possible start on Christmas Day:
Lazarus himself never dreamed of this: Marquis Daniels, back from the hospital bed, back in basketball, back in Boston.

Or this: Marquis Daniels, risen from the basketball graveyard, from the stretcher where he lay following a collision with Gilbert Arenas in a February 2011 game against the Orlando Magic, risen from an Atlanta surgical ward, where earlier this year Daniels underwent extensive spinal surgery from which he has fully and remarkably recovered.

And yet here is Marquis Daniels, not only upright but svelte and strong, not only back but rust-free, impressing coaches and teammates alike, not only here to help the Boston Celtics' bench but, with captain Paul Pierce sidelined with a bruised right heel, ready to potentially suit up and start on Christmas Day in New York.

"When it happened," Daniels said of his injury, "doctors told me, 'We can't let you play no more.' And I was like, 'As long as I can walk, I'm all right.' But 10 months later, everything is good."

Hop HERE to read the full story.

Daniels steps to the fore

December, 13, 2011
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyMarquis Daniels and his new number on Celtics media day.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- When Marquis Daniels strolled onto the court Tuesday for Celtics media day, he was sporting a new jersey number -- 4, his third number in as many seasons with the Celtics. Between the franchise’s retired numbers -- 20 in all -- and those currently in use, there weren’t many to choose from. But Daniels has a fallback plan, just in case No. 4 somehow disappears.

“I’m trying to be the first [Celtic] to have a letter,” he said. “All the numbers are pretty much gone, so I want to get a letter here first.”

In 2009-10, his first season with the Celtics, Daniels wore No. 7, but that’s now the property of Jermaine O’Neal. The following season, Daniels chose No. 8, which now belongs to Jeff Green. So this year, barring a sudden jump into triple digits -- or the alphabet -- No. 4 it is.

But why 4?

“Actually, it was my first number,” Daniels said, pointing to his left arm. “I had it branded on my arm when I was on AAU. I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I got it, though.”

Oh, come on. It couldn’t have been that long ago.

“I was 11,” Daniels relented. “My older cousins did it. They tricked me … I didn’t know what it was.”

So what hurt more, the brand or last year’s grisly spinal injury?

“Oh, the spine,” Daniels said. “Definitely the spine.”

Daniels' improbable return to basketball

December, 10, 2011
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- After the Boston Celtics engaged in their first practice session of the new season Friday, Marquis Daniels stood by a door to the locker room at the Celtics Training Center at HealthPoint detailing to reporters his improbable journey back to the basketball court when coach Doc Rivers emerged from the back and playfully shouted, "Risen from the dead!"

Both Daniels and Rivers were uncertain he'd ever play basketball again after a freak accident in a February game against Orlando that left Daniels with a bruised spinal cord after colliding with Magic guard Gilbert Arenas. Daniels subsequently had offseason surgery to relieve the effects of spinal stenosis, a condition characterized by a narrowing of the spine, which he’d battled for years and resulted in occasional numbness and increased vulnerability in situations like the collision with Arenas.

That surgery was successful and, four months later, Daniels got medical clearance to return to basketball. Now he’s back in Boston, and it seems he couldn’t be happier about it.

“It was always my first intention to come back here,” Daniels said. “To be back on the court, I mean, I always had it in the back of my mind. It was just something I wanted to do. I was kind of skeptical at first, until I got my first hit [over the summer]. I got headbutted right here [points to forehead] and had to get stitches. But when I got headbutted I was like, hey, at least I know my neck’s all right. The good thing about it was it let me know that I can get some contact and compete.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn't immediately on board with the idea of bringing back Daniels. Before the surgery, he told Daniels he didn't think he should play basketball again. And when Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge suggested the team would re-sign Daniels recently, Rivers balked. Then he had a talk with team physician Dr. Brian McKeon and it changed his mind. Now, Rivers said he's "super confident" in Daniels' health.

"Lazarus," Rivers said, referencing the biblical reference to rising from the dead. "I didn’t think Marquis would ever play basketball again. In fact, I told him he shouldn’t before surgery. I was very honest with him. Then he had surgery, got clearance, and actually, he's probably healthier now than he was before he got hurt. It's great to have a guy back who knows our system, and knows who we are. He’s a perfect guy to come back."

Asked whether any Celtics visited him in the hospital after his surgery, Daniels beamed and detailed their visit during a road trip last season to play the Hawks.

“Man, it just goes to show you the type of guys that are here,” he said. “It’s a family-oriented team. Even when I was in the hospital in Atlanta the guys came over and saw me the day after my surgery. That meant a lot to me. They had a game that night, but they still took time out to come over and check on me. And they stayed in contact with me throughout the whole summer.”

Now that long summer is finally over, and with a clean bill of a health and a one-year veteran minimum contract, Daniels is happy to be back at it with the guys he calls his family.

Revisiting the Marquis Daniels trade

December, 8, 2011
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Rocky Widner/NBAE via GettyLast year's Marquis Daniels trade will aid the Celtics on Friday.
When you're a cap-strapped team like the Boston Celtics, you have to take advantage of every available loophole. And that's exactly what Boston will do Friday when it adds Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels to its 2011-12 roster.

Daniels, who spent the last two seasons with Boston on one-year deals, suffered a scary spine injury in early February, essentially ending his 2010-11 campaign. In need of his roster spot, the Celtics traded Daniels to the Sacramento Kings at the deadline in late February, receiving a 2017 second-round pick. That pick is top 55 protected, meaning the Kings would have to be one of the five best teams in basketball in 2016 in order for the Celtics to receive that pick.

So the Celtics got nothing but the roster spot, right? No, they also got a $2.4 million trade exception.

With that, Boston can absorb a contract of similar amount in a trade. On Thursday, the team agreed in principle with the Milwaukee Bucks on a swap that will bring Dooling and his $2.2 million contract to the Celtics in exchange for what will likely be a future second-round pick.

The irony: The Celtics also plan to re-sign Marquis Daniels to a one-year, minimum contract Friday. In a roundabout way, Boston traded away a player that wasn't going to be able to contribute last year, got a valuable roster spot for the remainder of the season, and now will add a valuable backup guard in Dooling, while Daniels comes back at a discounted rate ready to play again.

As a tax-paying team, the Celtics have only the mini mid-level exception ($3 million) to offer a player this offseason. Beyond a sign-and-trade with players they boast Bird Rights to (Jeff Green, Glen Davis), the team will otherwise be limited to obtaining minimum contract players.

For the record, Boston boasts two other trade exceptions after shipping rookies Luke Harangody and Semih Erden to Cleveland at the deadline last year. It's unlikely they can utilize those quite as shrewdly as they did the Daniels exception.

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

December, 8, 2011
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Albert Pena/Icon SMIMarquis 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]
ESPN's NBA Rank project is halfway home having ranked players No. 250-500. Former Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels showed his sense of humor by demanding a recount after being voted No. 293 on Wednesday...

http://twitter.com/#!/Marquis_Daniels/status/111629379699884032


Other notable Celtics (or former Celtics) thus far: Troy Murphy (263 overall, 3.66 rating), Von Wafer (325, 3.01), Carlos Arroyo (329, 2.97), Avery Bradley (No. 393, 2.41 rating); JaJuan Johnson (407, 2.28), Sasha Pavlovic (423, 2.21), and E'Twaun Moore (458, 1.98).
Rocky Widner/Getty ImagesMarquis Daniels put together a fantastic defensive season.
A little less than six months after a scary on-court incident threatened his basketball career, former Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels has resumed workouts with the goal of returning to the NBA next season, according to his agent.

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 agent Mark Bartelstein said Sunday that Daniels could eventually be healthier than ever with the issue alleviated. The NBA lockout might soon be the only detriment to resuming his basketball career.

In a move designed to free roster space, the Celtics traded Daniels to the Sacramento Kings in February for a conditional future second-round pick (one that Boston is unlikely to see as it's top 55 protected). After re-signing with Boston last offseason, Daniels is an unrestricted free agent for the third straight summer, but Bartelstein stressed how Daniels enjoyed his time in Boston when not injured (a thumb injury limited him during the 2009-10 campaign).

"Marquis loved Boston, [coach] Doc [Rivers], and his teammates," said Bartelstein. "Those guys all visited him after his surgery and that meant a lot to him."

Earlier this month, we explored the idea of the Celtics bringing back Daniels in our Good in Green series. Based on the reaction in the comments, readers were almost unanimously against the idea. That surprised us because we're not sure people realize just how good Daniels was defensively last season.

According to Synergy Sports data, Daniels ranked in the 96th percentile among all NBA defenders, allowing a mere .731 points per play. 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 still chasing Daniels.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.8 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9