ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — There was a time when Marquis Daniels thought he would never play again. Now, after recovering from a spinal cord injury he suffered in February 2011 and playing out the rest of last season in a reserve role in Boston, the veteran guard has signed with the Milwaukee Bucks — likely filling the team’s final roster spot for the upcoming season.
Daniels averaged just 3.2 points in 38 games with the Boston Celtics last season, but he played a key role off the bench on defense due to his ability to guard quick point guards and also longer wing players. At a Bucks workout last week, Daniels, 31, said he wants to be known primarily as an unselfish player — the kind of player who will play defense and create for his teammates, first and foremost.
But for now, he’s just happy to be a professional basketball player at all. After a collision on the court resulted in a bruised spinal cord — which was made worse by a preexisting condition making him more susceptible to neck or spinal injuries, Daniels said — there were questions about his ability to return to the court.
“Once a couple injuries happened, they were like, ‘You can’t play no more,'” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m fine. I can walk.’ My doctor gave me the surgery and said I could play again.”
After the surgery, Daniels said he felt some of his skills on the court came easier than they had in the past.
“Actually, I feel so much better now,” Daniels said. “I wish I would have known earlier in my career. … My strength and my grip and everything is a lot better than it had been in the past.”
With a healthy Daniels, the Bucks get a versatile player who can defend multiple positions — something their defense desperately needed, considering how small in stature Milwaukee’s guards are, collectively. Daniels’ spot on the team may make it more difficult for rookie Doron Lamb to get minutes, but for a backcourt desperate for defense, Daniels’ signing was indeed necessary.
Daniels’ deal is expected to be a one-year contract, but the details of the contract have not yet been released by the Bucks.