That’s the word from the exquisitely named New Orleans Times-Picayune:
[Hornets GM Jeff] Bower has inquired about Boston Celtics free agent Marquis Daniels’ availability, according to Daniels’ agent Mark Bartelstein.
Daniels is an unrestricted free agent after signing a one-year, $2 million deal with the Celtics last summer.
When the Heat signed two of the three best wing players in the NBA, I was sure the Celtics were going to use their Bird Rights to re-sign Tony Allen. I would have bet money on it.
I was about as wrong as could be. Boston didn’t just let TA walk; they sent TA a message that he wasn’t even worth $3.3 million, a small (by NBA standards) raise on his 2010 salary.
You don’t do something like that unless you’ve got another plan to fill the wing behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. You don’t turn away the easy solution unless you’re confident you can pull off something a bit trickier.
I don’t know what that trickier plan is, though I’ll speculate a bit tomorrow. But I’ve wondered if perhaps the C’s are interested in bringing back Marquis Daniels.
I know that sounds crazy given TA’s fantastic defense in the playoffs and the fact that he clearly leapt past Daniels in the rotation. But still: Daniels has the potential to be a useful and consistent two-way player. Tony Allen usually helps you on defense, but he remains an offensive liability whose non-existent jumper makes it very difficult to play him alongside Rajon Rondo against smart defensive teams.
For all TA’s progress, the C’s still scored 7 fewer points per 100 possessions in the playoffs with TA on the floor versus with him on the bench, according to Basketball Value. The same thing happened in the regular season, when Boston scored about 4.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with TA on the floor. Those are big, damaging numbers, and they are the reason Tony Allen barely got on the floor in Game 7 of the Finals, even as Boston’s offense collapsed and the starters got tired.
Rondo and TA were so good together defensively that they could create the occasional offensive spurt by forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. (Go back and watch the key run in Game 4 of the Cleveland series for a good example). But overall, TA is an unreliable offensive player who creates unique problems for a team whose star point guard still can’t shoot jump shots.
Daniels had a disastrous year in Boston, but before he got injured in December, he looked like he might thrive in the back-up wing role TA had never been able to seize. He can initiate the offensive off the dribble, hit mid-range shots and finish off of cuts to the rim. He is fairly careful with the ball, and he makes up for average athleticism on defense with sound positioning and a knack for staying on the floor when his opponent pump fakes (an underrated skill).
Might it be a realistic option to bring Daniels back? The C’s don’t have full Bird Rights on the Grand Marquis, but they have a limited version of Bird Rights that (if I’m reading this correctly) allows the team to sign Daniels for up to $2.4 million next season even though Boston is already over the cap.
Would you sign Daniels for that money? And would New Orleans (or any other team) really offer any more than that?