Only Delonte West Can Change His Course

Texas Legends vs. Canton Charge

Delonte West, who last played for the Texas Legends in the D-League, believes he could be a key piece to a championship team that’s ‘one guard away’. (David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Will Delonte West ever play in the NBA again?

It’s a real question and a sad one because West, who turns 30 on Saturday, has all the talent to be a solid rotation player for any team. He’s a willing, snarling defender and a heady offensive threat. His 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks teammates instantly fell in love with him and coach Rick Carlisle backed him at every turn. A gruesome broken finger that required surgery wiped out a chunk of the season and likely prevented him from signing that multiyear deal he so badly desired for a little security after several seasons of playing on one-year, minimum contracts.

And then West went haywire during training camp last year, his insecurity sabotaging a second season with Dallas and now potentially a career that is stalled at eight seasons. West didn’t like the backcourt logjam in Dallas and felt threatened. He acted out. Suspended once for conduct detrimental to the team, a second suspension before the season even started earned him a one-way ticket off a team run by Mark Cuban, one of, if not the most forgiving, player-centric owners in the game.

The Mavs gave up on a player they really needed, but West needs basketball even more and he might never get it back. He is easily the least-talked-about free agent still on the market.

I had been trying for some time to reach West, who has refused to answer phone calls or respond to text messages. Last week, Slam Magazine‘s Tzvi Twerski did roust West from his long media silence. West continues to live in Dallas. He recently got married and the couple is expecting a baby very soon.

In the article, West comes across as self-loathing — not wanting to name the baby Delonte Jr., as family members have suggested, to prevent future harassment in school from his father’s past misdeeds — and he continues to point to his heavily chronicled 2009 arrest while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers as an unfortunate incident that teams refuse to let him escape.

“Before that, coaches and GMs, they said I was a tough, scrappy player,” West told Twerski. “They wanted to go to war with me on their side. Everything after that incident became, ‘did he take his medicine?’ Oh, ‘he’s bipolar.'”

In a sports world prevalent with DWI’s and other mischief, West said the media is also guilty of keeping him trapped under their thumb some four years after the arrest.

“Reporters can’t write a sentence — they can’t write a sentence about even a good game — without mentioning something from four years ago,” West said. “There are plenty of players arrested for DUIs, gun charges, this and that. [Meanwhile], they’ve made me into the Terminator.”

West, who has Bipolar Disorder, who is known for off-the-cuff, often unsavory rants on Twitter, who has financially supported a long list of extended family members for years and who secretly slept in the Mavs’ locker room when he signed in December 2011 because he said he was broke, must take control of his career, end the self-loathing and make smart decisions when opportunities arise.

Toward the end of last season when it was still possible for him to join a team for the stretch run and the playoffs, West signed a contract to play for the Mavs’ D-League affiliate. West hoped it would lead to a reunion with the Mavs, but when Cuban made it known that it would not, West opted not to report to the Texas Legends.

Other clubs wanted to see West back in uniform, but in the D-League first, to gauge his mood and behavior more than the state of his mid-range jumper, to determine the best they could if he was worth the risk of adding to their locker room.

As the Legends waited for him to show up, West was apparently firing his agent. However, differing stories surfaced with his representatives claiming that they were walking away from West because he refused to heed their advice — such as quickly joining the Legends to showcase himself for other NBA teams — and also withheld payment.

When West finally arrived to play for the Legends, it was a moot point. He played eight uninspired games and that was that.

“I had tears in my eyes watching games this past year — not because I’m bipolar, but because I’m sitting at home and miss the game,” West told Twersky. “When my agent calls, I’m going to be on the next flight. Not to be cocky, but some teams that are trying to win are one guard away, one guy that can make a couple great plays away from going to the Finals.

“Well, I’m right here. Y’all know it and I know it.”

Every executive in the NBA knows West can play the game. They just don’t know if they’ll get a stable and productive combo guard for the duration of the season. That’s the real and sad truth.

24 Comments

  1. allen says:

    had his chance in nba for a decade. only so many roster spots – give someone else a shot now.

  2. yolo says:

    he cant keep his mind in the right place for a full season, its only drama with this guy, It´s sad, and I do feel bad for him, but to be an nba player you have to be healthy mentally and psycially.

  3. B Radd says:

    Delonte could be a good pickup for the Spurs. Pops is the father figure type and intimidating force that could be a positive influence for Delonte West only if he can accept resposibility and be able to put his team 1st before himself.

  4. John says:

    New york

  5. SoulChorea says:

    He’s put himself in a real bad spot…he can’t be trusted to be stable enough to lead a young team, so the Bobcats, Wizards, Nuggets, Pelicans, etc would be smart to fall back. And all the contenders have veterans that are mad cool with Lebron and they’re all hoping Lebron will join them in ’14, so that takes out the Lakers, Mavs, Heat, Knicks, etc. Not too many teams are gonna want this dude. And his attitude, like “y’all know you want me, you know it and I know it, come sign me” is not gonna come across right to any team that actually was thinking about it.

  6. Walter Campbell says:

    This is not about being Bipolar,which is not a problem of can you understand “reality!”Yo Delonte,quit being a tattoo!,practice you game,go to the hole with both hands!Shoot 500 free throws everyday,and 500 threes too!This will get you to back to the NBA!Focus on whats important!You look like you want to just look funny!

  7. ummmm says:

    Let me asked, would you feel comfortable or trust with a coworker who is emotionally unstable, tend to lust after anything that walks primarily your mother who greets you and friends in the hallway, and 30 years old with low confidence talking about his red hair and no body likes me. i know i would trust him on or off the court. He needs medication for being depressed more than any thing.

  8. He is a good offensive player. I like the suggestion of him going to the Charlotte Bobcats. He could come off the bench after Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions. West is a combo guard so you never know what teams could go with. I wish him the very best. I hope West does make it back onto a team. He can’t be no worse than some of the players who have been signed to teams already.

  9. caloyski says:

    JEFF , YOU ARE ALSO LIKE STEVE AND SEKOU– THEY ALWAYS DELETE VIEWS DIFFERENT FROM THEIRS– STOP BEING A BIASED COLUMN– LET VIEW BE READ PARTICULARLY THOSE THATARE NON- TRADITIONAL–

  10. Istvan says:

    Celtics should pick him up!!! It’s a shame a capable player like him is still a free agent while a bunch of players with less talent get signed just because they are easier to handle…

  11. Elijah says:

    This is really sad but it’s true he needs to work on himself before he excepts a NBA team to sign him

  12. D-Fence says:

    Haha, he definitely got punished for bangin someone’s mother, someone who is very important to the league…

  13. New Orleans Rebuilding fan says:

    Pelicans is best choice or could be the Hornets(currently Bobcats) which lacks backcourt offense. He could set-up Big Al or Anthony Davis or even Greg Oden if he heads in New Orleans..

  14. Billy welch says:

    Would love to see him on the pacers

    • Gaorge says:

      not a bad idea! D is there and he could definitely help during moments noone from Pacers could score against Heat

  15. Cole says:

    This is a sad story, but I personally don’t want him back in the NBA.

  16. Eli Odell J. says:

    Be nice to see him get back to playin again but at the end of the day it’s up to him to sort hisself out, don’t worry bout what you don’t have but thank The Lord for what ye do

  17. J says:

    great article!!!

  18. J says:

    it’s sad, he has talent and he’s a good role player I hope he lands somewhere soon

  19. Kimmy says:

    This is a very sad story. If an NBA team does pick him up, it would have to be a warm and fuzzy management staff, who can accomodate his mental health issues. And then he needs to make the committment to focus on playing basketball, not how he thinks teams should be managed,where he should fit in and so forth. Wow.

  20. Vasili says:

    I’d love see him play in the Celtics uniform again.

  21. Mike Flowers says:

    He definitely won’t be on a team featuring LeBron James lol