Marquis Daniels 'definitely' able to play next season


Marquis Daniels 'definitely' able to play next season

By A. Sherrod Blakely 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 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."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”