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Dirk's sick; Delonte West is happy to play

12/14/2011

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks finally got the whole gang together for the first time to practice Wednesday and then Dirk Nowitzki had to head home with an illness.

Still, it was the first time that newcomers Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and the most recently signed, Delonte West, were all on the floor for the first of two practices today.

West, who will handle backup point guard duties for the departed J.J. Barea, said it was just good to be back playing NBA basketball again and that he's excited to pick up where Barea left off playing behind Jason Kidd.

"For a little guy, those are big shoes to fill," West said of Barea, before comparing his game somewhat to the future Hall of Famer he'll back up. "With the green eyes and 15 pounds lighter, you might say I'm a poor man's Jason Kidd."

Well, Mavs fans will get to make that determination for themselves as the season wears on. The ultimate goal for West is to allow Kidd to play about 30 minutes a night and even less in some instances throughout the compacted 66-game schedule.

West, who held down a job as a delivery man/stock room worker at a furniture store during the offseason, said he had several options for the season, but when he got the call from the Mavs he knew where he was going. And it wasn't back to Regency Furniture Showrooms where he got that job during the lockout because the court system wouldn't let him play basketball overseas stemming from his 2009 arrest for driving around with three guns.

West's one-year deal with the Mavs is for $1.1 million.

"I had a few options, but then the world champions come knocking, and me just being a fan of the Dallas Mavericks, just the way they play, an opportunity to play with -- a lot might not agree, but -- I would say play with the best basketball player, one of the best basketball players in the world with Nowitzki, and being able to learn from Jason Kidd -- I actually think our games emulate each other in a way," West said. "With J.T. (Jason Terry) being the sixth man of the year, Lamar Odom, there's a lot of things that I can pick up from guys like that and I'm just excited to be here."