NBA Free Agency: Why New York Knicks Should Sign Delonte West

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIFebruary 28, 2013

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 17:  Delonte West #13 of the Dallas Mavericks passes the ball against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at American Airlines Center on October 17, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Following the NBA trade deadline, the New York Knicks looked to the free agent market to bring in power forward Kenyon Martin, adding depth and improved defense on the bench.

But though Martin was a smart addition, he shouldn't be the last free agent the Knicks bring in before the home stretch of the regular season.

By cutting some of the deadweight at the bottom of the roster, there should be room for one more difference-maker on the bench, and that man is Delonte West.

Like Martin, West has yet to play in the NBA this season. The Texas Legends of the D-League currently hold his rights, but he has yet to report for them and is free to sign for any NBA team that wants him.

At age 29 West is still in the prime of his career—it's his attitude problems rather than his on-court production that have kept him out of the league this year.

Twice before the start of the season West was suspended by the Dallas Mavericks, resulting in his eventual departure days before the start of the regular season.

Clearly, West's attitude is a major red flag, but even so, he's a player the Knicks should seriously consider picking up. At this point, he has to know that one more locker-room spat could spell the end of his NBA career before he even reaches his 30th birthday.

West isn't in a position with much bargaining power right now, so the Knicks could offer him a 10-day contract to see if he's in shape and willing to buy into a team atmosphere. If not, he can be cut easily, making it a low-risk move for New York.

The payoff, however, if West does play to his potential, could be huge for the Knicks.

For the last few seasons, West has been one of the league's best backup point guards, and he would be an upgrade and a much better fit than Pablo Prigioni.

Unlike Prigioni, West is athletic and has the ability to penetrate the way that Raymond Felton does with the starting unit. He's also not afraid to score himself, which is something that has been a major criticism of Prigioni this season.

The last time we saw West, he had posted a career-high PER of 15.3, scoring 9.6 points per game for the Mavs on 46 percent shooting. On top of that, he also dished 3.2 assists per game. That sort of production from West coming off the bench with J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire could be lethal.

West's versatility in being able to play both guard positions makes him a good insurance option for the Knicks if there is any injury trouble in the backcourt ahead of the playoffs. Having a player who can produce at either guard position as a starter or a bench player is a luxury the Knicks can't afford to pass up.

The Knicks have seen already this season how much their offense relies on Felton's health, so having a similar player in as his backup rather than the slower Prigioni and Jason Kidd is essential.

After his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, West is someone with plenty of postseason experience. He's played 58 playoff games so far in his career and has started in 27. 

West has given NBA teams plenty of reasons not to sign him this season, but at this point he's still someone who could be a low-risk, high-reward addition to the Knicks. 

If his attitude problems can be controlled, West is a quality bench player who can lead the second unit and make the Knicks that much deeper.