Unique Delonte West will be welcomed back
The 6-foot-3 guard signed with Dallas in December and showed up to his first practice in a pair of beaten-up high-tops and with no money to rent a place to live. He quickly won over the organization from top to bottom with his feisty defense, solid mid-range game and quirky, disarming personality. A month ago he even campaigned directly to Deron Williams via Twitter, urging the Brooklyn Nets star to come home and play with the Mavericks even though it surely would have meant the end of West's stay.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein is reporting that West has agreed to return to the Mavs. Terms of the deal are not yet known. Dallas used the remainder of its cap space to sign guard O.J. Mayo last week, but still had at its disposal a $2.5 million "room" exception and veteran minimum contracts.
"That’s all right. If you don’t have loyalty, you have nothing," West said on June 30 about campaigning Williams to sign with the Mavs. "Right now, I’m a Dallas Maverick and if I can do anything to help out and make this team better, that’s what I’ll do. If that’s my ticket out the door, hey, that’s something that comes along down the road. But right now, I'm trying to do everything I can to make my team better and get back to a championship."
West's return, plus the impending signing of rookie center Bernard James, will give the Mavs a full 15-man roster. Whether the current group is the one that opens training camp in late September remains to be seen.
Although he missed one-third of last season with a gruesome broken ring finger on his right hand, West proved to be a valuable asset at both guard positions. He was originally signed to back up Jason Kidd, but almost immediately took over as the starting shooting guard until he broke his finger so badly that pins had to be inserted to stabilize it.
West, who turns 29 on Thursday, is again set to join a crowded Mavs backcourt, although one with a drastically different look. He is suddenly an elder statesman of a group that includes a pair of 24-year-olds in point guard Darren Collison and Mayo at shooting guard, a tandem that president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has said is penciled in as the starters.
Bringing back West gives Dallas much-needed depth at both guard spots, as odd as that might sound since the Mavs will have eight guards on the roster, including Vince Carter, who could be in line for plenty of work at small forward. West becomes the lone proven point guard behind Collison and he could again make playing time for Rodrigue Beaubois tough to come by. At shooting guard, Dallas has Mayo and the defensive-minded Dahntay Jones, who came over with Collison in the sign-and-trade with Indiana.
Third-year guard Dominique Jones and rookie Jared Cunningham will have their work cut out to crack the rotation.
West averaged 9.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds last while relegated to just 44 games because of the broken finger. He was hoping to put together a solid season to earn a multiyear deal above the veteran's minimum. He's played the last two seasons one-year, minimum contracts.
West puts loyalty to team and family above just about all else. He proved it throughout the season and after it when he made his Twitter pitch to Williams. And he continued to show it even as a free agent when he conducted two local basketball camps, one as recently as last week, with his future up in the air.
"I'm just praying and hoping a team sees what I bring to a team and where I’m at in my career," West said three weeks ago. "I'm just scratching my prime."
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