Delonte West is trying to make it back to the NBA.
He has been out of the league for two seasons and a comeback will involve two parts — proving that he still has it on the court (he’s only about to turn 31); then proving he’s not going to be a distraction off it.
All of it starts in Las Vegas.
As has been rumored, West is on the Clippers Summer League roster announced Monday (possibly thanks to Doc Rivers, who coached West back in Boston). With all due respect to Jon Brockman and DeAndre Liggins, West is about the only interesting thing on the Clippers roster in Vegas as Reggie Bullock (quad injury) and C.J. Wilcox (shoulder) will not be on the team.
West was last in the NBA in 2012 with Dallas and he played well, averaging 9.6 points a game, hitting 35.5 percent from three and having a PER right at the league average of 15.3. West can do a number of things on the offensive end: penetrate, dish, knock down open looks, plus he is a solid defender. If he still can do those things teams will notice.
But that’s only half of it. Dallas, arguably the most player-friendly organization in the league, didn’t want him back due to the distractions and challenges. This is the guy who gave Gordon Hayward a “Wet Willie” during an NBA game, who has been arrested on gun charges (something he thought was blown out of proportion), and who has had a host of other incidents large and small. West has to show all that is behind him.
West started to try and reclaim his image and his life in an open interview with Slate where he discussed being perceived as a person he is not. He has battled a bipolar disorder, but a lot of things rumored to have happened didn’t (nobody reasonable around the league buys the LeBron rumor, but it refuses to die). Vegas is the next step in that.
The question is will that be enough?
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.
Bill Bridges, a star as a Kansas Jayhawk who went on to have a 12-year NBA career that included being part of the 1975 Golden State Warriors championship team, has passed away, according to the University of Kansas.
Bridges was an undersized power forward at 6’6″ but he was a beast on the boards who averaged 11.9 rebounds a game for his career and more than 13 a game for six straight years at the peak of his career. That 11.9 per game average is still 27th all-time in NBA history.
A New Mexico native, Bridges was a three-time All-Star (all as a member of the Hawks), two-time All-NBA Defensive team, and was part of the 1975 Warriors title team. Besides the Hawks (St. Louis and Atlanta) and Warriors, Bridges played for the Sixers and Lakers.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.