After a seemingly endless negotiation period that began in mid-July when former Pacer Marquis Daniels committed to Boston, the 28-year-old finally agreed to a one-year contract with the Celtics at the biannual exception. He is now expected to make approximately $1.99 million next season to come off the C's bench.
This deal took a while to complete, and with good reason. The biannual exception, which gives each NBA team a cheap salary-cap loophole once every two years (hence the name), is incredibly restricting of a player's salary. Daniels wasn't able to make any more than that $1.99 mil in Boston this season, which is why the Celtics attempted to acquire him via a sign-and-trade deal, with the Pacers signing him to a bigger contract first before shipping him over to Boston.
Daniels wanted the sign-and-trade option to work out for obvious reasons — he wanted more money. He averaged 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds a game last season for the Pacers, playing the role of part-time starter, part-time sixth man, and his stock was on the rise. He wanted a bit more money than the C's could legally offer.
But the sign-and-trade would have benefited both teams, as well. The Pacers wanted to get a deal done because they could get something in exchange for their free agent — rather than let Daniels walk, they were hoping to swing a deal and get a player in return for him. An extra big man, for example, would have been a huge help.
The Celtics would have owed Daniels more money, but they wouldn't have minded a trade because it could have netted them an extra player. The C's have an extra roster spot open, and if they could have reeled in a backup point guard along with Daniels, their offseason would have been complete.
A sign-and-trade scenario was perfect for everyone involved — except for that hypothetical third team. And since none of the NBA's other 28 GMs wanted to bite at the chance to butt into the Celtics' Daniels deal, the sign-and-trade option fell by the wayside.
But to Daniels' credit, he committed to the Celtics either way. By announcing back in July that he was a Celtic no matter what, he showed this town his loyalty up front. It wasn't about money — he was coming to Boston for $4 million, or he was coming for not even half that. That wasn't the issue. He wanted to win a championship.
Daniels has proven himself, right off the bat, to be a team player. And that's exactly the kind of player the Celtics need right now.
While GM Danny Ainge has done a lot of work this offseason at building this team's bench for the upcoming season, there are still questions to be answered.
No one's sure who's going to be the primary backup for Paul Pierce at the small forward position. The C's might give that job to the young Bill Walker, or they might make one more roster move to bring in a veteran. Or that job could fall to Daniels.
We've heard some speculation, but nothing certain, about the backup point guard behind Rajon Rondo. In recent years, the team has gone after veteran pointmen at midseason (Stephon Marbury, Sam Cassell et al), but the job has always gone back to Eddie House to tip off the season again. The C's could go with House again, they could keep draft pick Lester Hudson or they could go after a free agent still lingering on the open market (perhaps Carlos Arroyo?).
Or that job could fall to Daniels.
It's unclear at this point what role Marquis Daniels will fill on the 2009-10 Celtics. He's going to be asked to move around a little bit in preseason, trying on a few different roles for size, and coach Doc Rivers will try to find the role that works best.
But no matter the capacity, Marquis Daniels is a man committed to Boston.
The C's tried to show him the money, and it didn't really work out according to plan. But regardless, they have their man, and in one way or another, he's going to be a boon to the Celtics' bench this season. It wasn't quick and it wasn't painless, but the Celtics got the job done.