Delonte West has spent virtually the entire season watching from the bench, and he's getting sick and tired of it. So on Wednesday afternoon, after going full-contact for the Celtics' entire practice at their Waltham facility, West took the chance to express his burning desire to play.
"I'm confident I can play tomorrow," West said, referring to the Celtics' showdown Thursday night with their rival, the Lakers. "But I guess my timing's off, and my familiarity with the plays isn't 100 percent. I guess in a game like tomorrow, we need 'for sures' out there. I would love to go tomorrow. I feel confident, and I expressed that to the trainers, to Danny [Ainge] and to Doc [Rivers]. But I think they maybe want to stick to the plan and give me a few more days of practice."
West has played in only five of the Celtics' 51 games this season, averaging 17.6 minutes per. He was suspended for the first 10, he made his return on Nov. 17, and then a week later, he broke his wrist in the second quarter of a Celtics win over the visiting Nets.
He's now nearing a return. The cast is off, the wrist is regaining strength, and West is able to go all-out in practice for the first time since late November.
But according to the powers that be — Rivers, the coach, and Ainge, the general manager– game action is still pretty far off.
"Delonte practiced, but he won't play [Thursday]," Rivers said. "He probably won't play until after the [All-Star] break, but at least he had his first full practice."
"He's probably another two or three weeks away from playing in a game," Ainge added. "He'll be back sometime after the break."
West said he wasn't at all afraid to get physical with the wrist — he did plenty of reaching in and tangling with the Celtics' bigs, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. Physically, he's fine, but he's still trying to iron out the wrinkles in his mental game before he can be game-ready.
"My conditioning is there, but my timing's a little off," he said. "There are a lot of things happening at the same time. I'm trying to rethink the plays, and I'm going against the starting five, which is one of the best defenses in the league. That's a way to welcome you back.
"I would love to play tomorrow," he added. "I'm a competitor, and that's one of the things that the doctors and the coaching staff are scared of. Once you get a guy on the floor, injury or not, he wants to compete. I want to go. But that might not be in my best interests to go full-tilt right now. So we'll stick to the plan, and hopefully I can get in there before the All-Star break."