One of the more surprising aspects of Danny Ainge’s eventful offseason was that the Boston Celtics did not re-sign Delonte West.
It was expected that West would return to Boston unless he received more money elsewhere, a notion that West’s agent furthered in July by saying that West’s No. 1 goal was to return to Boston and help win another championship.Yet reports during the brief free agency period made it seem like the Celtics were oddly luke-warm about the prospect of re-signing West and he chose to sign with the Dallas Mavericks instead, for a veteran’s minimum deal the Celtics certainly could have matched.
West’s former teammates said today they were surprised West didn’t return to Boston. (ESPN)
“I thought he’d definitely be back,” said Pierce. “It’s hard to kind of develop chemistry when you bring a lot of new faces in each and every year. That’s why I wanted him to come back. He was injured a lot, but he really adds something to the Dallas team that they probably lost in J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler — you know, a guy who can come in and give them energy defensively and possibly give them a boost offensively also.”
Asked if he was surprised by the team’s decision to go in another direction, Pierce admitted he was.
“It was a big surprise, because I thought he would be one of the main guys to come back,” said Pierce. “I thought he did so well in the time he played and in the playoffs, so it was a bit of a surprise. But I’m happy for him that he’s found [a comfortable situation] there in Dallas. He’s in the starting lineup right now, and I wish him the best.”
On Monday, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo expressed a similar sentiment, saying he was disappointed to lose West this offseason.
“He’s one of those guys who’s going to fight, regardless,” said Rondo. “He’s going to compete, regardless of who’s in front of him, whether it’s a point guard or whether it’s a three, he’s going to compete and go out there and play hard every possession. So, you’re going to miss a guy like that on your team, but we have new guys this year. We’ll just try to fill in holes and hopefully they’ll do the same thing.”
Perhaps Ainge actually did aggressively pursue West during free agency and the guard decided he wanted to take J.J. Barea’s role in Dallas instead. Perhaps Ainge thought West presented a locker room risk that was too high for his skills, so the Celtics decided not to pursue him even though his talents clearly could help Boston’s currently-struggling second unit.
Whatever it was, losing out on West was a surprise, and it was a surprise that continues to show its effects on Boston’s second unit today. The Celtics could really use a playmaker off the bench, but the rugged guard who most fans expected to fill that role currently starts for the Dallas Mavericks.