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A Lot of Positives for Delonte West

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Delonte West on Rondo…

"He’s the best point guard in the world right now."

On the second unit…

"We’ll be a force to deal with."
Forgive Delonte West if he might be seeing things through rose colored glasses. His nickname is Redz. He’s part African-American and part Piscataway Indian. He is wearing green again and his personality has a color all its own. There are a lot of colors to Delonte West. He also has a negative to put far into the rear view mirror.

But don’t color him anything but positive. And after seeing him distribute the ball one night and hitting big shots the next you can call him ‘Jack’…

"Yeah, yeah. Like I said before…I’m a jack of all trades. I’m not great at any one thing but I’m good at a lot of things.

Tonight I saw the sets. I’m coming off the bench and able to observe the game and see how I can help the game and…yesterday being up 30 points (it was) more important to get a flowing second unit and get our chemistry going. I got guys involved more. So they see that I’m an unselfish player and I create for guys and tonight it was more that we needed points on the board, so I starting attacking offensively."

Attack he did. West scored 12 points in the second quarter on 5 of 6 shooting to turn a 9 point first quarter deficit into a 2 point half time lead. He also ‘jacked’ the Nets around for 5 rebounds and 3 assists in the quarter. After playing 18 minutes, but only 3:17 in the second half, West’s back spasms acted up and he played no more.

 Celticsblog spent a few moments with D. West after the Net game.  


Q: You played with Shaq last year. There’s been a lot of talk about his inability to guard the pick and roll. Perhaps too much considering the Cavs points allowed per possession were almost identical with or without Shaq on the floor. So somehow the Cavs compensated for that and Shaq brings other things to the table. What is your reaction to that, regarding Shaq and defense?

The Power of the Pen

"It’s all about perception, you know. It's the power of the pen. Whoever decides they want to write about what they see for the night that’s what the fans are given. They are given that perspective

And like you said, he does a lot of things and you understand…you know how to incorporate what he does into your defensive schemes. It’s working pretty good for us here in Boston so far. And it worked for us in Cleveland."

Is he in a little better shape this year?

"He’s in great shape. He was in great shape last year. It’s all about who you are playing that night and you have to understand it’s also the (specific) opponents you are playing. They have schemes that they want to do."

West Defends Shaq on the Pick and Roll.

Using Delonte’s perspective it is smart in more ways than one to obtain Shaq for the Celtics.

'the only person that was on the Boston team that was really able to breakdown our defense was Rajon’

"For instance, we played Boston in the playoffs last year and the only person that was on the Boston team that was really able to breakdown our defense was Rajon and he’s the best point guard in the world right now. I don’t think nobody can stop him right now. You can see, he was driving around everybody. He’ll drive around the whole team so…you can’t look at that and say that Shaq can’t guard the pick and roll. If we weren’t seeing Boston, it wasn’t a problem. "

There might be truth to that, coupled with some of that Delonte West positivity shining through. Rondo can make good defenses and solid defenders look silly at times. And there must be more than one way to cover a pick and roll.

The slick little guard with the big heart, mental toughness and versatile game is back playing for the Celtics. It is the team he started with and played 3 years for, honing a variety of skills, most of them on the basketball court. He’s also a talented artist and a part time poet… and who knows what else? Musician? Singer?

Danny Ainge sometimes gets lucky. Or he knows a bargain and a good risk when he sees one. It looks like he took good advantage of some (un)fortunate events. Or just maybe he saw a chance to get one of his old favorites back, possibly help the team, and give him a new start at the same time.

Doc has noted that Delonte is the calm to Nate’s energy and he sees the synergy. But that’s not a new thing for West.

"I’m able to fit in with any style. I’ve already played with a guy like Nate in Jameer Nelson ( Delonte’s college teammate), a guy that’s explosive and can create his own shot...energetic, you know…just (have) to balance it out. He’s in the train and driving, I’m able to spot up and shoot and he’s a spot up shooter so he’s going fast and I’m going slow…and vice versa."

Three ball handlers on the second unit and a "force to deal with"

Doc has also noted that Delonte being able to handle takes pressure off Nate and that allows him to be himself.

"Yeah, that’s positive too. And with Marquis out there we got three guys that can handle the basketball so…the second unit is very interchangeable… and the sets from the guard position, the more the season is going on, the better we (are) going to get at it in practices and we’ll be a force to deal with."

Letting West Go and Picking Him Up

Delonte West was traded from the sinking ship called U.S.S. Cavalier to the already sunk and perpetually rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves. They then released West saving over $4 million dollars but giving up a ‘swiss army knife versatile’ veteran combo guard with 45 games of playoff experience. He turned 27 on July 26st .

That was a bit of a surprise (no, not his birthday) because Wolves G.M. David Kahn seemed to be collecting guards. It wasn’t like the T-Wolves were over the salary cap either. Their payroll would have been a little over $50 mil with him. But again, it is Minnesota and we’re all wondering just exactly what they are doing now.

At $20 million over 4 years, Kahn re-upped The Annual Mystery Motivation Project Named Darko Who Had Already Mentally Bought A Plane Ticket Back to Serbia. That’s a long title for a long player with a perplexingly short game. West was acquired with Sebastian Telfair and they kept Telfair. He is only getting $2.7 mil.  They also signed a 25% purer point guard in Luke Ridnour who has amazingly similar career stats as West, but plays 33% less defense. Of course, they have lottery pick Jonny Flynn.

Apparently West’s weapons charge, ensuing home detention, and impending NBA penalty included West out of the plans for Minny. Using the guy from the movie The Sting’s phrase… "Ya folla?"

Enter Danny Ainge, the contrarian. Impersonating the recent U.S. Census, Ainge canvassed almost every available free agent and more than a few potential trade, I’m sure. Ainge had little money but a chance at a title and NBA immortality to entice quality talent with.

Unable to strike deals for J.J. Redick, Mike Miller, Anthony Morrow and who knows who else, resurfacing Rudy Fernandez rumors remained unconsummated. On July 29th, Danny finally signed shooter Von Wafer to a non-guaranteed contract.

Six days later, on August 4th West was released. After knowing what the NBA penalty was (10 game suspension) the Celtics signed West to a non-guaranteed contract, making it official on Sept 1st. It is easy to assume that Doc and Danny know West as well as anyone in NBA team management.  With a non-guaranteed contract, call it a solid calculated risk for the Celtics. For Delonte, call it a reprieve and a tremendous opportunity.

Unable to keep West’s co-draft mate Tony Allen in green and failing to convince Eddie House to return to the fold, Danny brought back another former Celtic family member. This one was a pre-title club member, but came with his own solid playoff resume.

A Case of Fate?

How this all works out is still be written. But it is beginning to look like it was the right thing for Danny Ainge and the Celtics and the right thing for Delonte West. West has something to prove. The Celtics had a real need for quality talent at a cheap price. You couldn’t get a better match on except this isn’t a blind date. This is looking more like a rekindled romance. History, growth, and need could make this one very interesting case of destiny.  

Seeing West out there in Celtic green hitting those shots literally brought flashbacks of earlier days. In those days, his teammates were getting younger and younger and winning less and less. This time around things couldn’t be more different.

Delonte brings a lot of positives to a team that needs them from its supporting players. In the past, when Rondo left the floor, the Cs offense changed completely and it often wasn't for the better. Between Nate Robinson and D. West, it is starting to look like the Celtics will no longer need to run Rondo on fumes.  

CB: Good to see you back in green.

West: Feels great being back in the green and white.

CB: Good to see you out there.

West: Yeah , the green matches with my eyes so…there’s another positive.