Following two suspensions this month for the oft-dreaded “conduct detrimental to the team,” the Dallas Mavericks released combo guard Delonte West earlier this week to trim the team’s roster to 15. Although the news should hardly come as a shock, given West’s history of, let’s say, questionable off-court conduct, I found myself disappointed … and in need of giving the former St. Joseph’s Hawks’ standout a raising of the glass.
Shortly after he was traded to Cleveland as part of the Ben Wallace for Larry Hughes mega-deal at the 2008 trade deadline, West became my favorite Cavalier. Here’s a guy who didn’t do anything exceptionally well, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better competitor — a tough, hard-nosed defender with freakishly athletic hops, a more than capable outside shooter, an aggressive attacker to the rim and a very underrated shot blocker. And, above all else, he’s hilarious — just ask J.J. Hickson. (“You’d betta have my do-nuts!”)
And West compiled some nice, complementary numbers in Cleveland’s LeBron James era. In the 2008-09 season, West started in all 64 games he appeared in, averaging 11.7 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and 40% from beyond the three-point line. In the 2009 postseason, West averaged 13.8 points per game and played 42.2 minutes a night, even outpacing LeBron’s 37.7.
A year prior, West drilled the ever-crucial game-winning three in Game 4 of the team’s first-round series win over the Washington Wizards. “Hands down, man’s down,” he famously said in his post-game interview.
But following the 2009-10 season, LeBron’s last in Cleveland, Delonte got the short end of the stick after the team’s second-round playoff debacle at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Rumors, and nothing more than that, soon circulated of an affair between West and LeBron’s mother, Gloria James, though Delonte still steadfastly denies them. Less than a month after James’s infamous “Decision,” the Cavs shipped West to Minnesota for PG Ramon Sessions.
West was mildly successful in Dallas, averaging 9.6 points per game in 44 appearances, of which 33 were starts in the lockout-shortened campaign. Bottom line: the guy can still play, and after his release, he took to Twitter, using his handle @CharleeRedz13, to campaign for a new gig. He even RT’d a Bleacher Report slideshow of potential landing spots for the 6-3 guard. Then followed his resume, or “resamay.”
So, Delonte, let me wrap this post by saying here’s to you. You live on as one of my favorite Cavs of all time, and I wish you nothing but the best. I hope, and expect, to see you back in the game sooner than later.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.