Pierce surprised West didn't return
January, 10, 2012
By Tom Lakin and Greg Payne | ESPNBoston.com
Jerome Miron/US PresswireFormer Celtics guard Delonte West goes hard to the basket for the Dallas Mavericks.WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics captain Paul Pierce said Tuesday he was surprised that the team did not bring back guard Delonte West this offseason. West, now with the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, returns to the TD Garden to play his old team on Wednesday night.
"I thought he’d definitely be back," said Pierce. "It’s hard to kind of develop chemistry when you bring a lot of new faces in each and every year. That’s why I wanted him to come back. He was injured a lot, but he really adds something to the Dallas team that they probably lost in J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler -- you know, a guy who can come in and give them energy defensively and possibly give them a boost offensively also."
Asked if he was surprised by the team's decision to go in another direction, Pierce admitted he was.
"It was a big surprise, because I thought he would be one of the main guys to come back," said Pierce. "I thought he did so well in the time he played and in the playoffs, so it was a bit of a surprise. But I’m happy for him that he’s found [a comfortable situation] there in Dallas. He’s in the starting lineup right now, and I wish him the best."
On Monday, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo expressed a similar sentiment, saying he was disappointed to lose West this offseason.
"He's one of those guys who's going to fight, regardless," said Rondo. "He's going to compete, regardless of who's in front of him, whether it's a point guard or whether it's a three, he's going to compete and go out there and play hard every possession. So, you're going to miss a guy like that on your team, but we have new guys this year. We'll just try to fill in holes and hopefully they'll do the same thing."
With Celtics coach Doc Rivers noting Monday that the team wants to move Keyon Dooling off backup point guard duties more often, it's only natural for some to wonder why the Celtics didn't seemingly put more of an emphasis on bringing back West. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acknowledged the team's interest early on, but as the roster filled up, particularly after the trade with Milwaukee to secure Dooling, there might not have been enough space to carry another combo guard considering younger players like Avery Bradley and E'Twaun Moore.
West drew headlines this week for suggesting he wouldn't be able to attend the White House ceremony with the Mavericks to celebrate their title victory. On the court, he's been excellent for the Mavericks, averaging 8 points, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 rebounds over 20.8 minutes per game.