Most Mavs fans would like to forget the Summer of Our Discontent; i.e. the first chance in team history to defend a title, an opportunity that sort of got tossed out like an old pair of shoes.
Having accepted that crucial members of the championship team were sent packing to preserve space under the salary cap for signing superstars such as Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, the front office made some interim moves supposed to provide a stopgap so the Mavericks would remain competitive.
The big fish Cuban & Co. managed to reel in was Lamar Odom Kardashian. We all know how that worked out.
Next, Vince Carter. Not at all a bad acquisition and, while no longer capable of dominating the highlight reels the way he used to, Vince did a solid job as a third option on offense.
However, the bright spot of last year for newbies would most definitely have been Delonte West. Despite a nasty finger injury which kept him out much of the year, during the time he did play he demonstrated the solid all-around game and versatility he has been noted for his entire career. Capable of playing either point guard or shooting guard, he filled in admirably for Jason Kidd and continued to demonstrate a flexible offensive game as well as being a pesky defender.
And yet as we approach the month of August, West remains unsigned. Clearly, with a slew of combo guards coming onto the team, Dallas is watching the summer league closely and weighing their options. Has West's time in Dallas already come to an end?
Eddie Sefko and Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News aren't sure if he will remain. While Sefko feels that in spite of the acquisition of O.J. Mayo the Mavs are still interested in West, Gosselin suspects that the youth movement in the backcourt might leave Delonte the odd man out.
On the other hand, ESPN's Jeff Caplan surmises that there simply may not be enough cap space to offer West the multi-year deal he would like and thinks it might be best to try to fill out the roster with an inexpensive big man who can rebound.
There are certainly options available but my preference would be to keep West for a number of reasons.
1) West has experience at both guard spots
The Mavericks have quite a bit of young talent in the back court but they have literally gone from All-Star caliber seasoned veterans to very young players with the exception of Vince Carter, who may spend more time at small forward and doesn't play the point. An infusion of youth is great but at 28, Delonte is hardly over the hill and he has experience both running the point and at the 2 spot. While almost everyone in the backcourt has expressed interest in playing the point or at least willingness to do so, Delonte is the only one with significant experience doing so, including starting for the Celtics prior to Rajon Rondo, as well as the Cavaliers, and filling in for Jason Kidd last year. Of all the current young guards on the roster, none of them has logged significant minutes as a point guard in the NBA other than Darren Collison, who himself is still relatively young and lost his starting job midseason last year.
2) West is a proven two-way player
The young Mavericks have loads of potential and Dallas certainly needs to develop its rookies for a change; however West has proven himself an effective penetrator, mid-range scorer and wing defender.
3) Go with the best player available
While it's true that the Mavericks have perhaps greater depth at guard than up front, Caplan's premise is based largely on the big trio of Kaman, Brand and Nowitzki being on the downside of their rebounding ability, as well as backups Brandan Wright being "frail" and Bernard James only a "rookie." He offers potential notable signings such as Ronny Turiaf and Nazr Mohammed, among others.
Well I can't go for that...no can do.
West is the best remaining player available and it doesn't make sense to sign a mediocre one-dimensional rebounder instead of West, particularly when the new front line looks significantly more promising to me than Caplan seems to see it.
Kaman and Brand offer better potential rebounding perhaps even than the Mavericks had when they won the championship. Add to that perhaps the best rebounding small forward in the league in Shawn Marion and I'm not sensing a big problem on the boards. James is showing himself to be a beast in the Summer League and Brandan Wright will do just fine if he spends more time at power forward instead of trying to guard guys who are not only taller but significantly outweigh him.
4) At 28, West is not the "oldest"
There are a number of options for the Mavs but if youth is really the option, Vince Carter is 35 and Dahntay Jones, who has a similar skill set with lower numbers than West during his career, is 31. I would think Jones would be a better choice for replacement than West and either way, if you lose either Carter or Jones you still keep the other plus Shawn Marion and Jae Crowder at the 3.
There is still time for further evaluation but hopefully the Mavs will be able to pony up and retain West. Somehow there ought to be a reward for the tiny shining light in the year that we all wish had been drastically different but regardless, he's the best man to round out the roster.
UPDATE 7/24/2012: Delonte West Resigns With the Mavericks
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