As we’ve come to better know and understand the basic form of this particular Dallas Mavericks roster, we’ve only become all the more familiar with its limitations. Even after acquiring Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, and Dahntay Jones, this was (and is) still a team in need — of perimeter and interior defense, of consistent ball-handling, of creative playmaking, and of dependable long-range shooting. The Mavs managed to address almost all of those issues through the re-signing of Delonte West (per Marc Stein of ESPN.com), and while Dallas is still a tier or two away from even hopeful contention, this low-cost play is a perfect use of the team’s 14th roster spot.
I’ve sung West’s praises plenty in this space, and I’d suppose that most who have watched him play basketball since 2007 have done the same in their own forums of choice. His skill set and approach to the game are simply that charismatic; every franchise is in need of its star players, shot creators, and rim-protecting bigs, but West fills the voids in between those pillars too well and too dependably not to be appreciated.
Everything that West does seems to be tainted by the string of colorful events to his name and his very public trials with bipolar disorder, but the man has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt by this point. If some teams really were reluctant to sign such a terrific role player based on foolish or outdated reasoning, then their lack of vision only pans out for the Mavericks’ gain; West should have been well out of Dallas’ price range given his on-court value, and yet a hesitation in the market has revived a perfect pairing between player and team. The Mavs may not have been able to give West the paycheck he deserves given their cap limitations, but they will nonetheless provide the same kind of stable culture and open system that allowed West to have a career year least season.
In exchange, the Mavericks now have a player capable of handling the ball either in lieu of or alongside O.J. Mayo. They have an all-purpose complement to Darren Collison, and a safety net familiar with all of Rick Carlisle’s sets. They have a player who can stretch the floor (in stark contrast to rotation replacement Dominique Jones) to play off of Shawn Marion and Dahntay Jones without surrendering the slightest bit of defensive tenacity. They have a smart, instinctive player who adds motion to a sometimes stagnant offense. It’s almost unthinkable that the Mavs would be able to get a player that effective and that versatile on a slim, one-year deal, yet here we are, and there is West — playing out another season as if there were something to prove to future employers, even though he and his game have already proven so much.