Boston Celtics: Delonte West
"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.
TRUEHOOP: WEST LOOKING FOR RETAIL JOB DURING LOCKOUT
Earlier this week, West tweeted that he was applying for a job at Home Depot, and the seven-year vet says that’s not the only retail job he’s looking into.
“I actually might have work with Sam’s [Club], BJ’s, selling knives,” West said. “That’s pretty cool too. I get a microphone and everything.”
West’s down-to-earth approach to lockout employment is also reflected in his attitude toward the summer league games, which he saw as a chance for NBA players to connect with the fan base.
“With the lockout going on, guys could be anywhere in the world vacationing, but they’re right here supporting the people," he said. "The people are going through a lockout just like we are. They make it a lot about us, but the average American is going through a lockout themselves.”
West said he hadn’t heard back yet on his “average American” job application, but he was looking forward to potential employee perks at Home Depot, should the lockout extend into the season.
“You gotta get with it, do something that you love,” he said. “I’m an architect, I was an art major. At Home Depot, I get free discount on hammers and nails.”
Limited by both injuries and a season-opening suspension, West appeared in only 24 regular-season games for Boston last season, averaging 5.6 points, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 rebounds over 18.9 minutes per game. He saved some of his most inspired basketball for the postseason, shrugging off a quiet opening round against the Knicks to reach double figures in scoring in all five games against the Miami Heat in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
West is an unrestricted free agent this summer and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge previously expressed a desire in retaining West's services at season's end. The team stuck by West during the early portion of last season, even amidst a locker room dust-up with teammate Von Wafer, and it appears that sort of faith resonated with West.
"Delonte was drafted by Boston and he has a special place for Boston because of that," said his agent Jarinn Akana of Lagardere Unlimited. "He spent some good years there, then came back last year and was able to play, but had injuries here and there. He did contribute, but he wanted to contribute more and help Boston advance further. Of course he'd like to be back, I think that's his No. 1 goal to be back and help Boston win another championship."
The Celtics inked West to a one-year, non-guaranteed, veteran-minimum deal last August. He came with a 10-game league suspension for off-court troubles before his arrival, and, in just his fifth game back, West fractured his right wrist while driving to the basket against the New Jersey Nets, an injury that would sideline him for three months. After just three more games back, West chipped a bone in his ankle during an offday walkthrough with Boston's trade deadline acquisitions, and missed eight more games.
Akana said his client will start offseason workouts soon on the West Coast (though West showed during his time in Boston that putting in the effort to get in playing shape is the last thing to worry about with him). The progress in negotiations between owners and players will dictate whether West will join the growing pack of players considering overseas options.
West has earned roughly $14 million in NBA contracts during his seven-year career, including just more than $1 million last season with Boston. As is the case for many unrestricted free agents, overseas could be an intriguing option for West, especially given his limited court time last season, but Akana stressed that his client is simply in wait-and-see mode.
"With any player, there has to be due diligence to see what's happening [overseas]," Akana said. "That's basically where [West is] at. But he'd like to be back in Boston. He had a great time there, he loves his teammates and he loves the organization."
The Celtics could use a veteran ball-handler behind Rajon Rondo, and West's ability to play both guard spots makes him an attractive option, particularly since he knows the system. The risk is that his hard-nosed style of play leaves him susceptible to injury, and he's missed 119 games over the past four seasons. The Celtics boast a pair of young combo guards in sophomore-to-be Avery Bradley and second-round draft pick E'Twaun Moore, but West would provide a steady veteran presence behind Rondo.
The skinny: For a team with only six players inked -- and two rookie draftees -- the point guard spot is one of the more beefed up positions at the moment. All-Star Rajon Rondo tops the depth chart and will log plenty of minutes, but the past two seasons have shown that Boston needs a backup point guard it can lean on to drive down Rondo's minutes. Right now, the depth behind him is a pair of inexperienced combo guards in sophomore-to-be Avery Bradley and rookie E'Twaun Moore, a second-round pick who will still have to earn a spot on the roster. Even if the Celtics believe Bradley is ready for an elevated role in Year 2 (this after logging only 162 minutes in 30 games last season), the team still needs a veteran that can hold the fort if Rondo is sidelined at any point.
The candidates: The Celtics expressed a desire in bringing back Delonte West, but a thin free agent crop might increase his market value... Earl Watson is a 10-year veteran with 756 appearances under his belt... T.J. Ford is intriguing if he comes at a low price tag... It seems unlikely Carlos Arroyo would be back, but he would have some of the playbook under his belt.
What makes sense: A healthy West is Boston's best option and during the Miami series he showed what a factor he can be (West averaged 10.2 points per game that series and played well at both ends of the court). His aggressive style leaves him injury prone and he endured both wrist and ankle injuries that limited him during the regular season. But his ability to play both guard spots and be a steady ball-handler when Rondo is off the court makes him the ideal fit. After that, it's far more dicey. The 32-year-old Watson doesn't bring much more than an experienced ball-handler, averaging just 3.8 shots in 19.6 minutes per game with Utah last season. The 28-year-old Ford, a University of Texas product like Bradley, is attractive as he tries to work his way back to being a top guard (he played just 41 games last season in Indiana, averaging 5.4 points over 18.9 minutes per game), but Boston might not be the best spot if he's looking for increased minutes (or money in the range of the $8 million-plus he's earned in each of his last four seasons).
Any other options?: It wouldn't seem logical to add another inexperienced ball-handler when the Celtics boast that already in Bradley (and potentially Moore). There are some interesting young names, including the likes of Sherron Collins. Before being waived by Charlotte last season, Collins spent a handful of games with the Maine Red Claws (coached by Austin Ainge, now Boston's director of player personnel). Like we noted with Alexis Ajinca, this gives Boston a glimpse into whether he has the potential to compete for a depth spot with the Celtics. The top available point guards are all restricted (Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks, and Mario Chalmers) and Boston likely doesn't have the cash to land them -- or a top unrestricted name like world-champion-by-way-of-Northeastern J.J. Barea. Which leaves you wondering if maybe the Celtics would give Carlos Arroyo another shot if he came with a minimum deal. Unlike any other signing, he'd have a familiarity with the playbook after being plucked from the Miami scrap heap late last season (though he he averaged only 12.7 minutes in 15 regular-season appearances and did not appear in the postseason).
Bottom line: Bringing back West should be a priority for Boston, otherwise the Celtics are likely left clogging up a roster spot with a veteran ball-handler who's unlikely to be anywhere near as versatile. Boston needs veteran depth behind Rondo, but there doesn't appear to be much to rave about on the open market.
The 2010-11 season, though, didn't exactly unfold the way he had planned. He was suspended the first 10 games of the season by the NBA for pleading guilty to weapons charges last summer, and he was forced out of the lineup again (for the majority of the season) with a right wrist fracture and a chipped bone in his right ankle. But after staggering through the first round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks, West found his groove against the Miami Heat and did all he could to keep the Celtics fighting against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and co.
Here's a look back at five memorable dates from West's season:
November 17: Regular-season debut (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists)
The NBA suspended West for the first 10 games of the regular season, but not the preseason, which gave Celtics loyalists a taste of the impact West was capable of making for Boston. So when West was finally able to take the court again against the Washington Wizards in mid-November, he was met with a warm ovation when he checked in for the first time, and rewarded fans with a 12-point, 5-rebound, 4-assist effort, helping the C's demolish the Wizards for their seventh consecutive victory. He helped to orchestrate a second-unit that included the likes of Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, and Marquis Daniels in the fourth quarter, as the reserves pushed the lead to as many as 37 at one point. Ten of West's 12 points came in the fourth quarter.
Player: Delonte West
2010-11 averages: 5.6 points, 2.7 assists, 1.5 rebounds
2010-11 salary: $854,389
Season in a paragraph: To label West's season as frustrating might be an understatement. After dealing with legal woes over the summer, West inked a veteran-minimum deal with Boston and knew he'd have to sit out the first 10 games of the season due to a league suspension from his off-the-court troubles. In his fifth game back, West fractured his right wrist on a strong drive to the basket and missed the next 39 games before returning in mid-February. Three games later, he chipped a bone in his right ankle during an offday walkthrough with some of the team's midseason acquisitions. West appeared in 16 of Boston's final 17 regular-season games (sitting out the season finale) and, finally able to find a rhythm, produced his best play against Miami in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Season highlight: West got showered with support by the Garden faithful while checking into his first game of the season on Nov. 17 against the Wizards, then chipped in a season high 12 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists over 21 minutes in a lopsided win. Honorable mention: West averaged 10.2 points per game in five solid postseason efforts against the Heat.
Season lowlight: By season's end, West said he was done talking about injuries (even as he fought through swelling in his ankle and a left shoulder injury sustained in the Heat series). Limited to 24 games during the regular season, West had so many starts and stops and the toughest part might have simply been trying to stay positive in the face of so many roadblocks.
Final grade: B
Teacher's notes: The final of 11 offseason signings by the Celtics, West was the steady backup ball-handler that Boston so desperately craved in recent seasons. Alas, the injuries limited his ability to help the second unit over the first six months of the season and, by the time he was healthy, the second unit had been completely overhauled. West did a good job facilitating the offense, his assists per 36 minutes (5.1) rivaling the best mark of his career (5.4 in 2007-08). But it wasn't until the Miami series that we saw what West was truly capable of contributing on a consistent basis.
What's next?: West is an unrestricted free agent again and it will be interesting to see if he draws increased interest outside of Boston this offseason (last summer, the Celtics were one of the few teams willing to consider him given his off-the-court troubles). Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed the team is interested in bringing West back, but they'll need to do it cheaply (another minimum deal, or a slight bump potentially utilizing non-Bird rights, depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement looks). A healthy West would have gone a long way towards limiting the wear and tear on Rajon Rondo this past regular season ... so long as West can stay healthy.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on West's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Rondo underwent an MRI and CAT scan at New England Baptist Hospital Sunday afternoon and the Celtics breathed a sigh of relief when no further damage was detected. Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted Rondo was particularly sore Sunday morning, just hours after the dislocation and improbable return during Boston's Game 3 win at the TD Garden, but that he expected Rondo to play in Game 4.
Given the positive medical results, only lingering pain could detour Rondo from partcipating in Game 4. Rivers did stress that he'd keep an eye on Rondo's on-court performance to gauge if he's truly healthy enough to play.
The Celtics got even more good news when backup guard Delonte West felt so much improved Sunday morning that he did not even undergo tests on the left shoulder he bruised in the second quarter of Game 3. Like Rondo, Rivers expected West to play and only a flareup of that injury would keep him off the court in Game 4.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism about the potential for guards Rajon Rondo (dislocated left elbow) and Delonte West (left shoulder bruise) to be available for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat, but admitted the team would wait for MRI results for both players before gauging their potential to play Monday night.
Regardless of what those tests reveal, and whether the duo can be effective on the floor if limited by injury, Rivers said there's no excuses moving forward.
"I’m optimistic about both, that they’re going to play," Rivers said. "I don’t know why I am, but I am. I just don’t know how well either one can play. But like I've said, if you’re on the floor, you're healthy, and that’s the way it’s been. That’s been my motto since I've been here and our guys believe that. I think it was Kevin [Garnett] actually who said it, what I always say, 'If you’re in uniform, you’re healthy. If you’re not healthy, you’re not in uniform.' That’s how we always viewed it. And we will make no excuses [Monday]. [Monday] is a playoff game, it’s Game 4, and we have to win. That’s all we have to think about."
Rivers said the trainer's room was a popular hangout on Sunday morning with team trainer Eddie Lacerte a man in demand. As expected, Rivers confirmed that Rondo was in a lot more discomfort after the adrenaline wore off and his elbow swelled up. Rivers had originally expressed pessimism about West after Saturday's game, even as the player suggested he was fine, but test results will offer better clarity about the pair's potential moving forward.
Rivers stressed that, even if the MRIs check out OK, the Celtics might not truly know the status of both players until Monday's game, when they'll undergo the more discerning eyeball test. Rivers said as long as the players are not hurting themselves or the team, he expects them to play if physically able.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Shaquille O'Neal (right calf/Achilles) experienced expected soreness after logging 8½ minutes in Game 3, his first game action since April 3 (and only his second appearance since Feb. 1). Rivers said he expects the 39-year-old center to be available for Game 4.
"It’s day-to-day with Shaq and his body, and his life in the NBA, but I do think he’ll be able to [provide a similar effort to Game 3]," Rivers said.
Paul Pierce, who suffered an Achilles strain in Game 2, was one of the few players on the court before the team's afternoon film session (Glen Davis, Ray Allen and Jeff Green were among a handful of others). Pierce appeared to be experiencing no lingering effects after a near 41-minute effort Saturday.
A handful of other notes from Sunday's session:
* Forget Mother's Day; mum's the word: Allen wasn't about to tip his team's hand in regards to whether Rondo might be able to play in Game 4. "I have no opinion on that," Allen said. "Obviously, [Sunday] is a whole day that you have to rest, so that's going to be up to him." Asked whether Rondo could get through a whole game with only one arm truly available, Allen said: "You've got to ask him that." Further pressed if he could play with one arm, Allen smiled and offered: "I don't know. We've got a doctor back there, you guys probably [have] to ask him."
* Let's go to the tape: Rivers said he had no interest in watching Rondo's injury while going through film review: "I didn’t watch it. I fast-forwarded when that part came. I didn’t want to see it. But I heard it was bad." ... Rivers did however watch how Rondo ended up in the cringe-worthy scene after getting tangled with Dwyane Wade scrambling for a loose ball and rejected the notion it was an intentional and dirty play by Miami's star guard. "I don't know, it was a hard foul," Rivers said. "Let's put it like this: He didn't intend to hurt Rondo. I honestly don't believe that, in 99 percent of the cases in our league, the player ever intends to hurt someone. But he did and it happens."
* Arroyo active again?: If Rondo and West are even limited, it's likely the Celtics would have to activate backup point guard Carlos Arroyo, who dressed for the first two games of the series before being deactivated Saturday with the return of O'Neal. Said Rivers of the former Heat guard: "It helps that he knows their stuff. But knowing our stuff is really important as well. And he's been here long enough, so he knows that as well.
* Oooh Baby, Baby: Davis on being a more consistent presence on the floor: "I've just got to play better. Point blank." The follow-up asked what the problem had been thus far and Davis shot back: ""Me. That's it. Point blank."
West only garnered a shade over 13 minutes per game against the Knicks, and seemed unsure as to where he could impact the game with such little floor time. The result was a string of four performances in which he averaged only two points, two rebounds, just over one assist, and less than three field goal attempts per game.
But following the series came a conversation with head coach Doc Rivers, who urged West to rekindle the assertiveness that is expected of him.
"He just wants me to turn up the aggressiveness," said West before the Celtics' final practice prior to their series with the Heat on April 29. "And for me that's not necessarily just shooting the basketball, because [anyone who] knows my game knows I can do a lot of things where I can affect the game more than just shooting the basketball. I think that's what he wants."
BOSTON -- Celtics guard Delonte West spent Tuesday's offday soaking his ailing right ankle in an ice bucket and, while he appeared glum about enduring yet another setback in this injury-plagued season, he vowed he'd be available when Boston tips off its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series versus the New York Knicks on Sunday night.
"No question, no excuses," said West, who was wearing a walking brace over his right ankle when he arrived to the locker room. "It's not 100 percent, but it is what it is."
West, who missed eight games after spraining his right ankle during an informal workout in late February, aggravated the injury Monday night in Washington when JaVale McGee steamrolled him while trying to race to the basket in transition.
West, who hoped to get in some light on-court activity before the game, will not play in Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Knicks and couldn't hide his frustration with the injury bug.
"It's almost like a jammed finger," West said. "The pain goes away, then you hit it, and it comes back all over again. Today is Day 1, we'll see how it goes today. Then we'll see how tomorrow goes."
West stressed that he'll be ready for Sunday's game, declaring that he'll be "suited and booted."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers also believes West will be ready to go and breathed a sigh of relief after watching the injury in front of the Celtics' bench.
"He felt a lot better today," Rivers said. "But watching that injury live, I was very concerned. I thought right away, 'We just lost him for a couple weeks.' So [the fact that it's not that severe is] great."
West appeared in 24 games for Boston this season, averaging 5.6 points, 2.7 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game. He served a 10-game suspension for off-the-court issues to start the season, then missed 39 games with a broken right wrist. The ankle sidelined him for nine more games.
Carlos Arroyo drew the start Wednesday versus the Knicks and would provide depth behind West if he's unable to get back on the court for the start of the postseason.
In the third quarter, West got steamrolled as Washington's JaVale McGee motored toward the basket in transition. West fell awkwardly as McGee fell on top of him. West grabbed at his ankle before being helped to the bench by teammates. He was briefly examined by team trainer Ed Lacerte before limping back to the locker room.
The team said he would not return.
West missed eight games after spraining the ankle during an offday practice in late March. He said previously that he's been playing with a small bone chip in the ankle, which caused it to swell earlier this month.
West drew a spot start Monday with Boston resting its starters and chipped in 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and five assists over 23 minutes before the injury.
West got tagged with a pair of technical fouls and earned the automatic ejections after barking at referee Josh Tiven early in the second quarter of Friday's game against the Wizards. Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted it was a quick toss.
"I got the feeling he said the right stuff," said Rivers. "That would be my guess, because it wasn’t a lot of words, so it had to be the right word.
"[West] apologized to the team, but, still, we needed the bodies tonight on a back-to-back. And that’s what I told him. We just needed [him]. I mean, 'Get thrown out [in Thursday's lopsided loss to Chicago]. [Friday] we needed you.' We needed the body.”
West took exception after picking up his third foul in six minutes while being whistled for a shooting foul on Washington point guard John Wall with 9:07 to play in the first half. West barked at Tiven, who gave him one technical near the scorer's table. As Tiven crossed back across the floor, West yapped about the fouls again, and got the heave-ho.
Earlier in the game, Tiven gave Washington's Andray Blatche a technical for a demonstrative air punch after being whistled for a foul trying to block a Kevin Garnett shot.
West chipped in two points, a steal and an assist over six minutes. He did not previously have a technical foul this season. Starting point guard Rajon Rondo logged 42 minutes in West's absence, a number that Rivers wasn't thrilled about.
West gave a little salute near the Boston bench, his back to Tiven, as he departed for the locker room. The Celtics were on top, 38-29, at the time of West's ejection, but four free throws helped trim that lead quickly.
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers were both ejected for earning consecutive technical fouls during a loss to the Phoenix Suns earlier this year.
(Note: Blog updated from in-game version)
The reserve guard, who's battled a fractured right wrist and a bone chip in his right ankle, was expected to provide stability and veteran poise in a jack-of-all-trades role off the bench, which everyone believed would help the second unit find that all-important measure of consistency.
West returned from his right ankle woes just over two weeks ago, and has played in a season-high 13 consecutive games. In his last five, he's come as advertised as the guy who does a little bit of everything. During that span, West has averaged 7.4 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field and 62.5 percent from 3-point nation, to go along with 1.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists. In each of those games, West has done something that accentuates his overall value, whether it's been timely scoring, getting his teammates involved, or much-needed defense.
But every once in a while, after firing another shot at the rim, West would lightly shake his surgically repaired right wrist that caused him to miss 39 consecutive games, or lift up his right leg for a brief second -- the same leg with a chipped bone in the ankle that kept West out of action for nearly half of the month of March. West's body isn't perfect right now. In fact, he freely admits he won't be 100 percent at any point this season, but he's determined not to let that stop him from suiting up and serving as one of the most important pieces of the Celtics' second unit.
West returned to the lineup on March 16 in a home victory over the Indiana Pacers, and has played in five consecutive games overall, which actually ties a season-high for the injury-stricken guard. While it would appear the worst of his ankle woes are behind him, he admitted he still suffers from random bouts of swelling from time-to-time.
"I feel OK," said West. "Of course it's great to be back on the floor, but my health is not at 100 percent. This ankle keeps swelling up on me. That's because of the chip in the bone. I'll be doing good for about two days and then out of nowhere it'll just swell up on its own, so I'm not 100 percent out there, but once you're out there, there's no excuses. It's not an excuse, but, yeah, it feels great being back."
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