It’s funny how timing can work. Earlier in the week, grades were given out for the Mavericks and Delonte West was mentioned. West didn’t get a grade due to not playing a single game during the regular season. He was waived after being suspended twice in the month of October for conduct detrimental to the team. The timing was funny as the mock grades came out just a day before news surfaced that had West popping back up on the radar.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that the former Maverick has entered the D-League’s player pool. It appears West had or still could have a path that puts him directly back into the NBA via the Memphis Grizzlies and a 10-day contract. While the offer hasn’t officially been made, a source close to West told Jeff “Skin” Wade of the Ben and Skin Show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM that West would prefer to take a chance through the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate for the Mavericks, in order to have a chance to land back with his former team. That’s an awfully bold stance to take if all things are equal, but every man is entitled to take their own path.
Looking from the outside, there’s quite a bit to examine when looking at the prospects of bringing Delonte West back into the mix. Let’s look at the pros and the cons.
- Stability to the point guard position.
The point guard position has clearly been the weakest spot for the Mavericks this year. Dallas has had to rely on older vets such as Derek Fisher and Mike James in an attempt to stabilize the position. They’ve had to dig deep in the way back machine for guard help due to the fact they haven’t been pleased with the performances of Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones. The younger guards have had multiple opportunities this season and over previous seasons to try to stake their claim as a guy who can be a rotational member only to come up empty. Delonte would be able to slide ride into the rotation and can handle either heavy or backup minutes. He’s got a year of Rick Carlisle’s system under his belt. Theoretically, that should mean he can mesh within the system quickly.
- West can be a dual threat.
Delonte can be a facilitator for teammates, but he has the ability to take his man off the dribble and be a significant factor in the scoring department. At 6’3″, West would be an undersized shooting guard, but the Mavericks are very familiar playing in a small ball setting. The boost in versatile talent could potentially help the Mavericks in their pursuit of making the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season. The streak of 12 straight playoff appearances is the longest in franchise history and currently the second-longest in the NBA. San Antonio, 15 consecutive playoff appearances, is the only team with a longer active streak.
- A fan favorite would return.
In his one season with the Mavericks, West quickly emerged as one of the most loved players from a fan’s perspective. He wore his heart on his sleeve, played with true hunger and determination, gave you the brutal and honest truth and had a charisma that was infectious. Many fans were incredibly disappointed to see Delonte go, so a return to Dallas would definitely be a welcomed sight to many MFFLs. His willingness to prove that he’s committed to making go round with the Mavericks work by making a trek to Frisco with the Texas Legends will endear himself to the fans even more.
- A potentially massive distraction can enter into the locker room.
If West were to return to the Mavericks, it wouldn’t matter what happens, he could play well or poorly, West’s actions would be placed under the microscope. The Mavericks are trying to scratch and claw their way back into the playoff picture and a distraction is probably the last thing they need. You can say that the crunch time guessing game between Darren Collison and Mike James is a distraction, but you have to figure that Collison will work himself into the position. In regards to drama, it’s simply a case where less is more.
- How does he interact with O.J. Mayo?
While nothing has actually been confirmed, there was speculation that the front office was concerned with West and his possible influence on O.J. Mayo. There was a photo that West tweeted during the preseason on how Mayo and West were on the late bus to the arena and they were the only two on the bus. He joked how it felt like they were in detention. For those who don’t know, seeing a starting two guard (Mayo) and a guy who would be a vital rotation player (West) hanging back and actually being alone on the second bus pops up as a red flag. The Mavericks clearly have high hopes for Mayo and his still untapped potential. If there is a situation that could cause Mayo to deviate from the Mavericks’ plan, they’ll likely steer clear of it.
- Bringing West back, knowing what they know, would go against the culture the organization has built.
This is what owner Mark Cuban told reporters prior to the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers in regards to letting West go:
“You always have to remember, the culture of the organization comes first. If you lose the culture and it goes in the wrong direction, then you’ve lost your team. We’ve had years like that where we’ve lost certain guys or I wasn’t diligent on certain guys and it’s hurt the team in a big way.”
Also, Cuban has mentioned that after the Lamar Odom saga, they would be less open to giving players a longer leash to work with in terms of issues that can affect the team. Simply put, it’s a case where the reward is potentially big, but the risk is even bigger. While it might sound exciting to bring West back, the short term influence might have a huge negative impact in terms of the long term outlook.
The organization knew what they were doing and what they were sacrificing by letting West go before the start of the season. They knew the hit they were going to take along the way and that wasn’t big enough of a hit for them to reconsider the situation. If that was the case then, it’s hard to imagine that things have radically changed now.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.