Delonte West is currently under suspension by the NBA. The only problem is that he doesn't have anything to be suspended from.
West was handed a 10-game suspension by the league office on Aug. 20, a month after he pled guilty to weapons charges stemming from a traffic stop last summer. But it's hard to pencil 10 games into your schedule when you're unemployed.
The Minnesota Timberwolves waived West on Aug. 3, only a week after swinging a four-player deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers to land the 27-year-old guard. On a jam-packed Wolves roster that includes Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Luke Ridnour, Wayne Ellington and now Sebastian Telfair as well, GM David Kahn finally decided that he had one underachieving young guard too many, and he cut loose the one with a criminal record and a number of deep-seated character issues.
Those issues might serve to derail an otherwise promising NBA career. This is a guy who has, in the past year alone, been sentenced to probation and community service by a Maryland court, been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and been the center of an outrageous scandal that might have torn apart the Cavaliers' chemistry down the stretch last spring.
If you're going to take on a player with that many red flags, you had better be sure he's worth it.
And with West, it's hard to be sure. You're not looking at an All-Star-caliber talent. He's not going to be a starter on a title contender — not anymore at least, not after things went south between him and the Cavaliers this season. He's going to be a serviceable role player on a decent team, nothing more and nothing less than that.
For all his trials and tribulations off the court, there are a number of things that West can still do very well on it. He's a tremendous double threat as either a point guard or a two — he handles the ball extremely well but can also play a bit on the wing, knocking down shots with impressive range. He can defend any guard in the NBA. He can run the pick and roll, he can create opportunities for teammates, he can do a lot with or without the ball. He's not a star, but he can really play.
The Cavs may have cut him loose, and the T-Wolves may have decided to pass him along, but West can still catch on somewhere. If he keeps his expectations low and is willing to come off the bench for sparse minutes, he can still be a contributor.
The Celtics are in the mix, and they've got one roster spot left out of their 15, with camp still four weeks away. They could conceivably sign West on the cheap and make an honest man out of him. But the Mavericks and Bulls, both playoff-caliber teams that could use another versatile guard, won't let him go without a fight.
It won't be a big-money competition — West made over $4.2 million last year in Cleveland, and he'll be lucky to see even half that this season — but still, teams will joust for the services of a solid backup combo guard who can still play.
As for the Celtics, they'll surely dabble in the West sweepstakes, but don't expect them to pursue too hard.
West is a high-risk, low-reward investment. At best, he's a decent backup for Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, doing his best to keep the starters' legs fresh. At worst, he brings his emotional baggage with him to Boston, and he destroys the Celtics' chemistry from the start.
Chemistry is important in Doc Rivers' locker room, especially with four future Hall of Famers and a room full of delicate egos. Unity is everything, and no one player is bigger than that mission statement. Certainly not a backup guard.
Delonte West will find a job somewhere, eventually. He's too good not to. But the Celtics had better tread carefully when their togetherness — their ubuntu — is at stake.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP