OFFSEASON

Daniels healthy, happy to be back with C's

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Daniels healthy, happy to be back with C's

WALTHAM Marquis Daniels is sporting a new jersey number (50) this season. And the man who's wearing it? He's changed as well.

The last time we saw Daniels on the court was 10 months ago

"Feb. 6," Daniels said. "I'm not going to forget that day."

That day he was being carried off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, his neck immobilized, with most in attendance believing that would be the last time Daniels would play in the NBA, let alone a Celtics uniform.

Not only is he back with the C's, but the surgery he had following the injury has Daniels in the best health of his career.

"I feel stronger," Daniels told CSNNE.com. "I feel like I can go to the basket a lot stronger, and just take more contact as opposed to last year or years before where I was like, trying to shy away from it. Now I'm just getting loose and trying to just play my game."

But before he could return, Daniels knew he would need to take a hit -- probably to the head or back -- before he would truly feel comfortable back on the floor.

Playing with some college players at Auburn a couple months ago, Daniels was driving to the basket when he and another player bumped heads. After the head-to-head collision, a slow but steady stream of blood began to flow from a fresh gash.

And Daniels could not have been any happier.

"I'm bleeding, but my neck's OK," Daniels recalls thinking at the time. "Usually I'd be down."

But on this day, Daniels' feet never left the ground.

"I was just bleeding. I had a headache. But other than that," he said. "I was OK."

The contact was caused by Daniels being aggressive, something he says he's more capable of doing now as he begins his third stint with the Celtics. He owes it all to surgery that he says widened his spinal canal. He also had some bones shaved and screws inserted. It was the kind of invasive procedure that was an absolute must for him to continue playing in the NBA.

But even after the successful surgery, Daniels wasn't totally convinced his NBA career would resume.

"After surgery, I was in a lot of pain," he said. "It was some doubts in my mind: 'This could be it.' "

But as he got stronger and returned to working out, Daniels realized it wasn't a matter of if he would return -- but with what team.

His agent Mark Bartelstein told CSNNE.com that there were a handful of teams that Daniels was seriously considering. "But the Celtics were the team he wanted to be with from the beginning," Bartelstein said.

Daniels echoed those sentiments this week.

"I always told him (Bartelstein), Boston was my first option," Daniels said. "Team spirit, family unity and the tradition, the way everyone treats me here. I thought it was better for me. Considering everything else, I know the system, I'm comfortable here and the guys are comfortable having me here."

And now, in what may be the last run for the Celtics' Big Three, Daniels hopes to do his part to help them go out on a championship note.

"If we can all stay away from the injury bug . . ." said Daniels.

As an eight-year veteran who has played less than 70 games in all but one NBA season (74 games, 2007-2008 with Indiana), no Celtics player knows the value of having good health, better than Daniels.

OFFSEASON

Celtics picks Brown, Yabusele, Bentil on Summer League roster

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Celtics picks Brown, Yabusele, Bentil on Summer League roster

Celtics 2016 draft picks Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ben Bentil, Demetrius Jackson and Abdel Nader will join last year’s rookies R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier, and Jordan Mickey on the Celtics Summer League roster, which the team announced Friday. 

Danny Ainge had mentioned after the draft he wasn’t sure about No. 16 overall pick Yabusele, from France, or No. 23 pick Ante Zizic’s availability for the Summer League. Zizic, from Croatia, is not on the roster. 

2014 draft pick James Young is also among those on the roster. 

The Utah Summer League begins on Monday, with a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. (on CSN) and the Las Vegas Summer League runs from July 9-18.


 

OFFSEASON

Celtics interested in bringing back big man Kris Humphries

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Celtics interested in bringing back big man Kris Humphries

BOSTON – CSNNE.com has learned that the Celtics have had discussions about bringing Kris Humphries back to Boston for a second tour of duty.

No deal is imminent because the Celtics’ focus remains on trying to land at least one of their top three free agent targets – Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Atlanta’s Al Horford and Houston’s Dwight Howard.

Durant has a list of six teams that he will consider signing with, although all indications at this point see the perennial All-Star returning to Oklahoma City with a “1+1” deal which would give him the flexibility to opt-out of the second year and do this free agency process all over again.

Horford and Howard seem more realistic options for the Celtics, although Boston will face steep competition when it comes to signing either one of them.

With Humphries, the Celtics would add a familiar face to the roster who when he did play for Boston, was productive.

In his lone season with the Celtics (2013-2014), Humphries averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game while shooting a career-high 50.1 percent from the field.

His play was strong enough to earn him a three-year, $13 million deal from the Washington Wizards.

During his time with the Celtics, Humphries was more than just a solid performer.

He was a veteran who was in and out of the lineup, but never grumbled about his inconsistent minutes.

But when the opportunity arose to play, Humphries was consistently ready to perform.

In practices, he would often stay after and run end-to-end sprints with the younger players.

It was the kind of stealth leadership that Brad Stevens needed from inside the locker room in what was Stevens’ first season as an NBA coach.

But the interest in Humphries now is two-fold.

First and foremost, he would provide some much-needed depth along the frontline. And with him being more of a stretch big now (108 of his 134 career 3s taken came last season), he fits the versatility mold that Stevens and the Celtics want from all their players.

And maybe just as significant, Humphries could provide talent while not necessarily needing a long-term deal to join the Celtics. Humphries was thought to have been a player who could command a deal starting at around $10 million.

But with some of the deals reportedly agreed upon just hours into the free agency period (Timofey Mozgov to the Lakers for four years, $64 million; Joakim Noah to New York for four years, $70 million), Humphries’ starting salary now will likely fall somewhere between $10-$15 million.And lastly, Humphries knows first-hand what it's like to play for the Celtics and the connection that players have with the team's fanbase.

And lastly, Humphries knows first-hand what it's like to play for the Celtics and the connection that players have with the team's fanbase.

"This is one of the best home crowds in sports, I would say," Humphries told CSNNE.com. 

OFFSEASON

Report: Knicks, Lakers among six teams interested in Evan Turner

Report: Knicks, Lakers among six teams interested in Evan Turner

Evan Turner revived his career with the Celtics the past two years and is now drawing plenty of interest around the league as free agency opens.

The unrestricted free agent averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4  assists as a sixth man last season with Boston. The Sporting News reports that the Knicks, Lakers, Bulls, Pelicans, Mavericks and Grizzlies are looking to bid for Turner.  

Turner earlier expressed an interest in returning to the Celtics, who have their immediate focus on meetings with Kevin Durant and Al Horford this weekend and dealing with their other free agents Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and restricted free agents Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, as well. 

NBA.com’s David Aldridge reports the interest between the Lakers and Turner is mutual.