HANG TIME, Texas — They were not able to reel in their No. 1 free agent target Deron Williams and they watched future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd escape to New York.
But the Mavericks, with spaces to fill on their roster, are still hoping to fill one of them with guard Delonte West.
Despite a finger injury that forced him to miss one-third of the 66-game post-lockout schedule and that bizarre delivering of a “wet willie” to Utah’s Gordon Hayward back in April, West was a far more solid addition to the Dallas lineup last season than, say, Lamar Odom and could help while Darren Collison and rookie Jared Cunningham learn the offense.
“We’ve got 15 spots and 13 players are under contract,’’ general manager Donnie Nelson told fishbowlradionetwork.com on Monday. “We’ve got a little work to do yet, hopefully Delonte will slide into one of those spots.
“If that’s the case that’ll be great.’’
And if that’s not the case?
“There’s also an argument for keeping that last roster spot open, because sometimes you get lucky towards the end of the summer,’’ Nelson said. “That’s probably how we’ll play it up, unless something really good presents itself.
“We’re still in negotiations with his agent and we’re hopeful that we can work something out,’’ Nelson said. “Obviously he’s got options and he’s got to sort through those.
“Some of those are timing issues there. We’ve just got to continue to negotiate and talk and see if there’s a fit there.’’
Though it’s often been a bumpy ride for West in his eight-year NBA career with four different teams, he has proven his versatility to play either backcourt position, capable of running an offense and getting to the basket, and also a good mid-range shooter. He can also be a nettlesome defender.
Those are all traits that can be valuable to coach Rick Carlisle’s club in the transition period. While the Mavs obviously got Collison to be their quarterback, he has also had his ups and downs, losing the starting job to Leandro Barbosa a year ago in Indiana. And the Mavs will still need a capable backup with the experience that West brings off the bench.
As the first offseason under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement pushes toward August, West is clearly in the group of mid-level veterans who are seeing and learning a new reality in terms of salaries. But if there’s a place where he would seem to be a comfortable and contributing fit, it’s with the Mavs.