By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
WALTHAM, MA. - Marquis Daniels made one thing perfectly clear at his Celtics introductory press conference Friday morning at the Celtics training facility in Waltham - he joined the Celtics to win a championship.
Daniels committed to play for the Celtics in mid-July even though he could have made a lot more money elsewhere. But the 28-year-old free agent wanted a shot at winning an NBA title more than money. And he felt like the Celtics gave him the best chance to do that so he agreed to sign a reported one-year contract for the bi-annual $1.99 million exception.
"I felt it was a good situation for me," said Daniels. "Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward. I think it's going to be a good situation for me. [The Celtics] are a great team. It's a great atmosphere. The guys want to win and that's just something I want to be a part of."
"I'm very happy to be here and hopefully we can bring you Banner 18," Daniels added.
The deal took about a month-and-a-half to complete. The Celtics first attempted to acquire Daniels via a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers, which would have given them the option to pay him more money and free up at least another roster spot in the process.
"It was in everybody's best interest to try to work out a sign-and-trade but those are difficult," Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.
A deal could not be made with the Pacers, who were hoping to get something in exchange for their valuable free agent. So Daniels, who made $6.37 million last year, and the option on his contract would have been worth $7.35 million this year, chose to sign with the Celtics for less money in exchange for getting a shot to play for a title-contender.
"It is a good situation for me," Daniels said. "It is a good fit. I can come in and help out those guys, Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and those other guys, [Rajon] Rondo, a break, that will be good for me."
Daniels said that he obviously wanted more money, but he "always knew that I wanted to come to [Boston] and be a part of this franchise and try to help this team play well," he said.
"I had other situations where I could have went and made more money but I wanted to be a part of a great franchise and a winning franchise. This is a team that is a championship contender and to come here, I thought it was a good fit for me."
Ainge was glad he settled for less money. Ainge said that both he and Boston coach Doc Rivers have been fans of Daniels since he first entered the league in 2003.
"He can handle the ball," Ainge said. "He can score the ball. He can play multiple positions. He can defend. He allows a coach to play a lot of different combinations. I can see him playing in some big lineups this year being the backup point with the bigger frontline or I could see him playing some small forward in smaller lineups so his versatility will allow Doc a lot of different combinations."
Daniels averaged a career-high 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. He said that it doesn't matter to him where Rivers wants him to play the most. Two years ago he played point guard for the Pacers when Jamaal Tinsley went down with an injury, but he is more naturally suited to play shooting guard or small forward.
"I just want to come in and help," Daniels said. "If he wants me to play the one, two, or three, wherever it is, play defense, whatever, I just want to come in and help and make the job easier for guys; to come in and be a great team player."
Daniels said that he expects his main role with the Celtics to be keeping Pierce and Allen fresh by giving them a breather when need be.
"They had a long, gruesome series with the Bulls last year and that took their legs away a lot," Daniels said. "If I can help out in that area I think it will be great for them."
Now with Daniels officially in the fold, the Celtics become one of the deepest teams in the league. Ainge noted that the Celtics now have three former NBA starters (Daniels, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis) coming off the Celtics bench, making Boston's second unit extremely dangerous.
"They are guys who can step up and play those [starting] roles if you have injuries and not miss a beat when they come off the bench," Ainge said. "We have great depth and experience off our bench now."
The Celtics have one more roster spot open which could go to second-round draft pick Lester Hudson or a veteran backup point guard. The Celtics only have one pure point guard on their roster in Rondo.
When asked if the Celtics are done making moves this offseason, Ainge said, "I'm happy with the team that we have now."
Daniels is happy too.
"A lot of guys made a lot of good moves but I like our chances," Daniels said. "I like where we are right now. As long as we stay healthy and stay away from the injury bug, I think we will have a great chance [at winning the NBA title]."
"We do feel like we're a team that has a great chance to win a championship over the next couple of years," Ainge agreed.