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Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Are Lakers main competitor for Delonte West?

By Jeff Caplan

Delonte West, one of a dwindling number of guards on the free-agent market, might have picked a bad time to seek a multiyear deal.

Judging by recent signings, West might be out of luck in his desire to end two seasons of playing for one-year contracts, although he can still avoid a veteran-minimum deal. He signed such a deal last December with the Mavs hoping to earn the security of a multiyear contract this summer by proving he's just entering his prime and that he's trustworthy off the floor.

West, who turns 29 on Thursday, can't be encouraged by what's going on around him, starting with the Mavericks. Dallas signed combo guard O.J. Mayo to a cut-rate contract that will pay him around $4 million next season, about $1.5 million less than he made last season with the Memphis Grizzlies, who opted not to make Mayo a qualifying offer of $7.3 million.

Mayo's deal is technically for two years, but the second year is a player option and Mayo will almost assuredly opt out next summer to seek a larger deal. The Mavs, who are heavy on unproven combo guards beyond Mayo and light on proven point guards behind projected starter Darren Collison, might not be as generous with West as they seek maximum cap space next summer.

Other recent signings also don't bode well for West, who the Mavs continue to say they have interest in bringing back and can do so with their $2.5 million "room" exception. That figure is actually looking better by the day.

Randy Foye, who made $4.25 million with the Clippers last season agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with Utah. Marco Belinelli made $3.4 million with the Hornets last season and is taking the Bulls' bi-annual exception of one year and $1.98 million. Ronnie Brewer, who made $4.7 million last season with the Bulls is joining the Knicks on a veteran-minimum deal of one year and $1.4 million.

So go ahead and scratch those teams as potential West destinations.

Who's left? How about the team that has courted West in the past and now employs his former head coach, Mike Brown? The Los Angeles Lakers certainly aren't in the market for a starting guard with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant now teammates. However, West would give the Lakers excellent depth, feisty defense and needed scoring punch off the bench at either guard position.

L.A. does have its taxpayer exception of $3.09 million available, although it might not be willing to hand it over to West and it also might not be willing to go beyond one year.

If the Lakers are prepared to offer West only the veteran minimum, his best option, if dollars rule the day, might still be in Dallas.