Yesterday, Delonte West’s agent publicly stated West’s desire to return to the Boston Celtics. (ESPN)
“Delonte was drafted by Boston and he has a special place for Boston because of that,” said his agent Jarinn Akana of Lagardere Unlimited. “He spent some good years there, then came back last year and was able to play, but had injuries here and there. He did contribute, but he wanted to contribute more and help Boston advance further. Of course he’d like to be back, I think that’s his No. 1 goal to be back and help Boston win another championship.”
A year ago, Delonte West was a jilted man. The Cavaliers traded him. The Timberwolves released him. Few teams wanted him. Even the Celtics, who finally signed him, offered a minimum, non-guaranteed contract that, for most players of West’s caliber, would have been akin to spitting chewing gum in their face.
But West’s situation was not normal. A ten-game suspension awaited him for gun charges. Rumors spun that he had splintered the Cavaliers locker room with an overactive, um, sexual agenda. His bout with bipolar disorder clouded his future and forced teams to reevaluate his worth. Considering that West signed a deal normally reserved for rookie free agents, the Celtics were one of few teams—maybe the only team—to offer West a contract.
And their faith didn’t end there. Danny Ainge called West one of his favorite players. Doc Rivers sung praise in a booming bass voice. The players, a few of whom become friends with West during his first stint in Boston, formed a support group. Even after West fought Von Wafer in practice, Boston’s faith never wavered, at least publicly. Rivers and Ainge called the argument overblown and stood by their beleaguered backup guard.
Now West will hit the free agent market whenever the lockout ends. After an incident-short season followed by a terrific playoff run, he will have other options. Some offers will probably contain more money than the Celtics can offer him. Others might offer West a better chance of winning a title (that sucks to write, but it’s true). But Boston stayed with West when his chips were down and the rest of the NBA world shunned him. They kept faith in him when doing so didn’t necessarily seem intelligent.
I understand I would be naive to think that West’s two-way basketball abilities did not factor into Boston’s willingness to forgive all prior transgressions. Talent always matters. But not every other team bet on West when the river came and he was left with very few outs. The Celtics did. And now West’s free agency decision could pit loyalty against money. We know he wants to stay in Boston. Let’s just hope he does.