Problems. Delonte West has some, no doubt. The man has issues, deep, dark ones that have haunted him at times in the past.
Problems. The Celtics have some, but fewer today than they had at the beginning of yesterday. And that’s because they signed Delonte West.
West has many problems, but for the Celtics he is also a solution. They needed another reliable wing, and they got one. They needed a defensive-minded perimeter player, and they got him. They needed a shooter, and they got that too. The only question that remains is whether West’s demons, always bubbling under the surface, threatening to cause harm to himself and his team, reveal themselves once again. When I put it that way, West has the potential to be one hell of a problem.
But is he definitely a locker room cancer? No. He might even be part of the cure. Sure, West has screwed up. Screwed up royally, in fact. Stashing guns in a guitar case and slinging said guitar case over one’s shoulder is nothing short of sinister. I know that. I just can’t get by the fact that West always seems beloved by his teammates, always seems to be “one of the guys.” He has problems, yeah, but Delonte West has always been a team player.
I said this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. West was always in the center of all those silly photographs the Cavs would take. He is always goofing around, always having fun with his teammates. He has some psychological issues, but on the court is where West relaxes and becomes himself, where — for 48 minutes, at least — West gets away from all those headaches and simply plays basketball. On the court, West is as low-maintenance an NBA player as you’ll find. He checks into the game, works his ass off, makes some plays, and never once complains.
That’s why Danny Ainge said, “I’m a fan of Delonte.” If you watch West play, you can’t help but be impressed. Not that he deserves to be an All-Star (he doesn’t), but West plays basketball the right way. He hustles, makes the extra pass, and remains the aggressor on both sides of the court. With his tenacity and unselfishness, West is the type of player that helps a ball-club win games. He’s the type of player that, if you’re a coach, you can’t help but appreciate. That is, as long as he isn’t in a mental illness-related tailspin.
With West, the discussion will always come back to that. “Yes, he’s a rugged defender and intelligent offensive performer, but don’t you remember all those guns?” “Sure, he’s a playoff-tested tough guy who can make plays off the bench, but…” “I know, he can shoot, handle the ball and defend like an animal, but…”
But, but, but. Delonte West will always come with a warning. He’s always going to be considered a potential problem.
The Celtics just have to hope he’s more of a solution.