By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @sherrodbcsn
The last time Boston Celtics fans saw Marquis Daniels on a basketball floor, the versatile wingman had to be carried out of the TD Garden on a stretcher after suffering a bruised spinal cord.
Daniels' fans, as well as the Celtics, didn't know if he would ever play again.
He isn't totally back to full strength, but he's now at a point where his agent, Mark Bartelstein, tells CSNNE.com that Daniels will "definitely" be able to play next season.
And it's not totally out of the question that the 6-foot-6 forward could return to Boston, either.
"When the time comes, he's going to look at and explore all his options," Bartelstein said. "But Boston is certainly a team he knows well, has a great amount of respect for and really enjoyed his time there."
Bartlestein said Daniels will have another check-up in a couple weeks.
"He can do some light work now, but after that, he should be able to go all-out," Bartelstein said.
While Daniels' versatility is coveted, his track record with injuries raises a number of concerns.
During the 2009-2010 season -- his first season with the Celtics -- he missed 31 games with an assortment of injuries with the most serious being a wrist injury that required surgery. He eventually returned, only to suffer a neck injury in the playoffs. This past season, Daniels' spinal cord injury ended his season after just 49 games. It marked the third straight season that Daniels missed significant time due to injury (he appeared in 54 games during the 2008-2009 season in Indiana).
Even though Daniels' play was inconsistent at times last season, it was clear that he was more comfortable and played with greater confidence having had a year under his belt in the Celtics' system.
"I was just trying to fit in (during the first year with the Celtics)," Daniels said prior to suffering a bruised spinal cord injury against Orlando on Feb. 6. "They look for me now; just knowing your role and accepting it."
Daniels did just that, with the Celtics posting a 37-12 record with him in the lineup last season.
Even with a clean bill of health, it is unclear if the Celtics will pursue Daniels when the free agency period begins.
It usually begins July 1, but with the Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire June 30, it's unclear when teams can begin negotiating with free agents.
If Boston elects to bring Daniels back for a third stint, they will likely do it in addition to adding another player who can play the wing position. That could give the Celtics a similar 1-2 punch off the bench at the wing position, similar to what they had two years ago with Daniels and Tony Allen (now with the Memphis Grizzlies).
Another factor that can't be ignored when talking about a potential return by Daniels, is head coach Doc Rivers.
Despite his ups and downs with the Celtics, Rivers maintained a high level of confidence in Daniels.
"I just know what he has," Rivers said of Daniels this past season. "You know the old saying with coaches: 'You don't coach a player to what he is today. You coach him to what you think he should be someday.' I just think he can do that a lot, and I think he wants to do that."