Delonte West, like a lot of other late free agent signings, comes with a few red flags. For starters, he’ll be inactive for the first 10 games of the season, as a consequence for pleading guilty to weapons charges last month. Go a bit deeper, and there are some understandable concerns about West that have no doubt thrown plenty of NBA teams off the scent of an otherwise solid player.
Saying that West is “troubled” may not be fair, but bringing him on does introduce a slight element of worry that some teams would apparently rather not deal with. There just aren’t all that many other ways to read West’s situation; why else would a slightly below-average player (in terms of PER, at least) and contributor on a championship-level squad still be around this late in the off-season?
Well, West is available no more. According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics will take the plunge, bringing West back to the city where he started his NBA career. West actually found a fair bit of success in his first tour through Boston, but was sent to Seattle as a part of the Ray Allen deal in the summer of 2007.
The move makes Boston one of the deeper teams in the East, after years of running a relatively shallow reserve unit. One of the O’Neals — either Shaquille or Jermaine — will start the season on the pine, and Kendrick Perkins will likely join in upon returning from injury. Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, and Marquis Daniels will return from last season’s squad. Boston signed scoring dynamo Von Wafer, and picked up rookies Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody, and Semih Erden, who are all capable of playing spot NBA minutes immediately. With West also in the fold, that’s a hell of a bench.
Amassing that kind of depth is the best way for Boston to take the regular season seriously — which they certainly didn’t do last year — while still keeping their legs for the playoffs. Previously, that would have meant leaning on players like Shelden Williams, Michael Finley, and J.R. Giddens. Now the Celtics can do better, due to an active off-season filled with value moves. West won’t cost Boston much, but he can provide scoring and a bit of playmaking from either guard spot, while offering Doc Rivers a versatile backcourt alternative.