By Peter F. Stringer
September 4, 2009
WALTHAM – It’s nothing new for a press conference to start late, and really it should be no surprise since we’ve been hearing talk of Marquis Daniels coming to the Celtics for the better part of the last two months.
So on the Friday morning before Labor Day, with most of New England looking to skip town, Daniels finally arrived, meeting the press well after 11:30, more than 90 minutes after the meet and greet was originally slated to start.
“It was very long, pretty much all summer. My agent kept telling me, ‘Don’t worry about it’,” Daniels said, when asked why this deal dragged on seemingly all summer long. “I had other situations where I could have made more money but I wanted to be a part of a winning franchise.”
Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge told reporters that Daniels is a guy he’s been tracking since “his first summer league game,” and noted that Head Coach Doc Rivers is also a long-time fan of Daniels’ game. Along those lines, Daniels said the idea of him first joining the Celtics came up early this summer when he ran into Doc Rivers in Orlando, where both make their homes in the offseason.
Daniels also mentioned that he’s tight with recently acquired big man Rasheed Wallace.
When asked what he expected Daniels to bring to the table, Ainge emphasized the 6’6″ guard’s versatility, saying that his presence would give Rivers multiple options off the bench.
“We’re really excited about having him on our team. He brings a great deal of versatility to our team,” Ainge said. “[He] brings experience and character to our team. He can handle the ball, score, defend multiple positions. I can see him playing with big lineups, being a backup point, and I could also see him playing small forward in small ball.”
Daniels certainly knows his role, and talked at length today about spelling Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. He noted how grueling the Celtics first round series with the Bulls truly was, and how he will be able to provide a lift off the bench, as well as give the starters a rest this season.
“I just want to come in and help. You want me to play the 1, 2, or 3, whatever it is. I’ll just come in to help,” Daniels said. As for the moves made by Cleveland and others, and they relate to the Celtics hopes of another NBA title, Daniels said, “A lot of [teams] made moves, but I like our chances right now.”
And while training camp officially starts at the end of September, much like the summer of 2007, guys are already congregating in Waltham and getting ready for that very title run Daniels is suggesting. Ainge reported that Wallace has been in “at 8 am the last couple of days” and mentioned Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis, J.R. Giddens and Lester Hudson as being regulars in Waltham as of late.
“They’re starting to creep in next week after Labor Day,” Ainge said.
As for the title window that everyone talks about with regard to the age of the Celtics’ superstar core, Ainge said that his team is positioned to make championship runs in the next two years.
“That’s kind of our mindset right now,” Ainge said. “I’m not sure what the window is exactly, but we do feel like we’re a team that has a great chance to win a championship over the next couple of years.”