AP Photo/Bob Leverone
Marquis Daniels with coach Doc Rivers during his time in Boston.BOSTON -- If Marquis Daniels learned anything during his final season with the Boston Celtics, it's that coming back from a major offseason health scare is no easy task. It's part of the reason that he cautions fans here to give both Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox time as they work their way back from aortic surgeries.
"You want to perform at a high level but I wasn’t able to," admitted Daniels, who returned to TD Garden Friday night as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. He missed all five shots he took as part of a scoreless effort in Milwaukee's 99-88 triumph, but gushed with confidence about his potential now more than 18 months removed from a scary spine injury that nearly ended his career in 2011.
"I can understand that lot of people are expecting [players like Green] to come right out and shoot great," said Daniels. "There’s still those thoughts in your head: 'What if I get hurt?' or 'What if this happens?' I tried to find some way to channel that and be able to play through it. That first year coming off major surgery, it’s definitely not easy."
Daniels said he feels better and more confident entering the 2012-13 season. After three inconsistent and injury-plagued seasons with the Celtics, he's looking to make an impact as a veteran role player on a young team.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers showered him with praise for his attitude during his time with Boston.
"He was a great professional for us. He was terrific," said Rivers. "I talked to him yesterday, he we good for our team. He had a lot of guys in front of him, but he never complained about it. Last year in the playoffs, he hadn’t played in a while, but he came in and helped us win a game. That’s who you want, that’s the type of veteran you want."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admitted the team never truly entertained the idea of bringing Daniels back this season (this after three one-year stints with the squad), but saw his game progress last season as he worked his way back.
"I thought he got better as the season went on," said Ainge. "I think also, he wasn't really given a lot of opportunities to play. Doc really trusted him in the playoffs. We didn't practice hardly at all last year as most of you know. But I thought Marquis had a good training camp and a good exhibition season last year, so I'm not sure if it was the injury or just being out of sync."
Daniels said he keeps in touch with most of the players in the Celtics locker room and that bond is evident. When Daniels checked in at the start of the second quarter on Friday, he got a hug from Kevin Garnett (yes, the same guy who didn't even flinch when Ray Allen gave him a love tap the other night in Miami). You'll remember Garnett was one of the calming voices who talked to Daniels on the floor after his bruised spine injury in February 2011.
Read on for notes on when the rookies might head to Portland and the Red Claws' drafting a Celtics family member.
--THE PORTLAND SHUTTLE?--
For the second time in as many outings, rookie center Fab Melo spent the night on the inactive list. Fellow rookie Kris Joseph saw his first professional regular-season action in the closing moments, but both could soon be making the trek up 95 for increased reps with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.
Ainge said the two Syracuse products could be sent north later this month when the Red Claws open training camp on Monday, Nov. 12. For now, they are gaining valuable experience just being around the parent club. But Rivers is letting Ainge handle the decision to send them to the D-League.
"Honestly, I haven’t given that a minute of thought," said Rivers. "That is something that Danny and [director of player personnel] Austin Ainge will probably talk about at some point. I haven’t given it much thought. I’m too concerned with the guys that we’re going to see every night playing the right way first."
--MAYBE DOC WILL GET TO COACH HIS SON--
Rivers might have missed out on a chance to coach his son, Austin, but the Red Claws used their fifth-round pick Friday night in the D-League draft to select his eldest son, Jeremiah, who played collegiately at Indiana (where he transferred after being a teammate of Green at Georgetown).
Maine utilized its other draft picks to snare Shelvin Mack (Butler) in Round 1; Omar Reed (Bluefield) and Cervante Burrell (Seattle) in Round 4; Ron Allen (Cincinnati) in Round 6; Scott VanderMeer (Chicago) in Round 7; and Corey Allmond (Houston State) in Round 8.
“We’re really excited about Shelvin,” said Austin Ainge. “We think he’s an NBA-caliber point guard, good person and leader.”
The Red Claws will have 16 players in training camp between their draft picks, center Chris Ayer, who was acquired in a draft-night trade, and eight invitees (including Boston affiliated players Micah Downs and Brian Cusworth).
--C's WERE PATIENT WITH BARBOSA--
Ainge said that the Celtics originally reached out to Leandro Barbosa on July 1, but it wasn't until late in the preseason that Boston's need for another guard went up and Barbosa's price tag came down. "He was a guy that we've liked and followed and evaluated for a long time," said Ainge. Did the Celtics consider Mickael Pietrus for similar depth? "We did talk with Michael early in the summer," said Ainge. "It just wasn't fitting in and, negotiating a contract, it wasn't working, so we went in another direction."
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who was finalizing a two-year deal to return to the Red Sox, sat courtside, while Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte took in the game from a private box.