Tales of redemption in sports aren’t as uncommon as imagined. It’s been two long and tough years since veteran guard Delonte West has played meaningful basketball in the NBA.
His hiatus has been stricken with run-ins with the law, and recovery from bipolar disorder. West’s last appearance was with the Fujian Quanzho Bank of the Chinese Basketball Association last season.
It wasn’t quite the level of NBA competition, but his averages of 22.6 points and 5.4 rebounds indicated that his skills haven’t diminished.
West will be 31 on July 26, and was still looking to get back into the league. The chances of providing an NBA contribution have been renewed, as West will be participating in the NBA Summer League with the Los Angeles Clippers.
West’s return also serves as a reunion with Clippers head coach and vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers. The two were with the Boston Celtics during Rivers’ tenure as head coach. The Celtics originally drafted West in 2004 as the 24th overall pick.
Since leaving the Celtics, he has played with the Seattle SuperSonics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks.
Rivers has always respected the tenacity and grit that West displayed under his tutelage. West played both guard spots for Rivers, posting career highs in field goal percentage (48 percent) during the 2005-06 season, and points per game at 12.2 in the following season.
Versatility and defense are two of West’s strengths that have been utilized throughout his career. Playoff experience is also one of the many traits West can bring to the Clippers, as he has played six of his nine years in the postseason. With the Clippers looking for backcourt depth, his performance could give him a great shot at making the team’s preseason roster.
The biggest concern that has come from picking up West is about everything but his basketball abilities. He has been known as a passionate player, that sometimes allows his emotions to get the better of him.
Things also got misconstrued, with traffic violations and weapons charges. An organization like the Clippers are taking a flyer on West with Doc Rivers and Chris Paul as leaders.
As long as West focuses on his role as designated by the team, his play will hopefully follow and provide an addition to a thin Clippers backcourt. Darren Collison, Chris Paul’s primary backup, is entering free agency, and West could be a prime replacement at a much better price tag.