Why Memphis Grizzlies, Not NY Knicks, Would Be Perfect Fit for Delonte West

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 29, 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

Although the potential of a lineup that features Delonte West, J.R. Smith, Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin is certainly intriguing for sheer entertainment purposes, it's the Memphis Grizzlies that present West with the perfect comeback opportunity. 

While the New York Knicks are an exciting possibility for the veteran guard, they're the 1B to Memphis's 1A. 

As CSSNW.com's Chris Haynes reports, the two aforementioned teams are the primary suitors for West's services: 

The New York Knicks and the Memphis Grizzlies are on the lookout for a backup point guard and according to a source close to the situation, both teams have inquired about the services of Delonte West.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says talks with those respective teams have ramped up recently, however they are termed as being “preliminary at this point” with no offers presented as of yet.

Both teams shall remain in contact with West as they continue to survey the market.

Haynes also informs us that West is determined to be a model citizen and is looking for a team "on the cusp of winning an NBA title," which allows both Memphis and New York to remain intriguing possibilities. 

He'll need to be a model citizen, especially after sitting out the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign. West was set to play with the Dallas Mavericks but two suspensions for detrimental conduct led to the team waiving him in favor of Eddy Curry, and he instead joined forces with the D-League's Texas Legends. 

The guard last played for Dallas in 2011-12, when he averaged 9.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. 

Mark Cuban's squad is no longer an option, though, so let's take a look at the two organizations that actually are, breaking them down in terms of three major factors: playing time, championship hopes and style. 

New York Knicks

Playing Time

New York features a pretty loaded backcourt already. 

Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni—who combined for 50.2 minutes per game in 2012-13—have his main position under control already. There's no reason for either point guard to experience a decline in playing time, and if anything Prigioni should get a few more minutes per game now that he's no longer a 35-year-old rookie. 

At shooting guard, things get even more crowded. 

Emerging stud Iman Shumpert needs to get a lot of run, and J.R. Smith is all but guaranteed a ton of action once he's fully healthy and ready to defend that coveted Sixth Man of the Year title. Add in rookie shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., and there simply isn't any space for another quality guard. 

West would certainly be a nice addition to help with the team's depth, especially since age and history lead to injury concerns, but he'd be more of a luxury item than anything else. He wouldn't be expected to play much, if at all. 

Championship Hopes

This is the area in which the Knicks do manage to definitively beat out the Grizzlies. 

Although New York finished the 2012-13 campaign with two fewer wins, they were three seeds better thanks to the weaker nature of the Eastern Conference. Even though the East is improving, it still lags behind the gauntlet that is the Western Conference by a rather significant margin. 

All the pieces are still in place for New York, and they're even stronger. 

Carmelo Anthony is back, which is easily the most important bit of news for Knicks fans. But he's set to be joined by a healthy Shumpert, a presumably healthy Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire and an intriguing new addition: Metta World Peace. 

New York is one of the elite teams in the conference, joining the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets. However, thanks to the return of Derrick Rose and the ridiculous offseason created by Mikhail Prokhorov's enormous checkbook, the Knicks look like they'll fall in at No. 5. 

They're championship contenders, but they're on the verge of falling into the "pretenders" category due to the strength of the truly dominant squads. 


The biggest problem for a New York-Delonte West pairing is the fact that his offensive game doesn't really fit in with Mike Woodson's strategy. 

West is a solid scoring guard, but his primary damage comes from mid-range. He's a capable three-point shooter, but he doesn't exactly excel from behind the arc, which is something he'd be asked to do on the Knicks. 

Woodson's system had two main principles (other than getting 'Melo the ball): shooting lots of triples and avoiding turnovers like the plague. 

According to Basketball-Reference, the Knicks shot and made more three-pointers than any other team in the NBA during the 2012-13 season. They also made 37.6 percent of their attempts, which left them trailing only the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat. 

That's a deadly combination, one that will greatly aid their chances of success in the future. However, West's 0.6 makes per game from downtown and 35.5 percent shooting behind the arc won't help aid the cause. 

Neither will his turnover-prone play. 

West doesn't exactly display great care over the ball, as evidenced by his 16.3 turnover percentage in 2011-12. Unlike most players, the point guard has gotten more free with his handle as his career has progressed. 

No team turned the ball over on a lower percentage of its possessions than the Knicks, and that's another key ingredient in their recipe for success. 

West may be a nice addition in terms of depth, but his game doesn't mix with the other pieces that Woodson is looking to deploy. 

Memphis Grizzlies

Playing Time

In Memphis, things don't look much better for West's chances of getting on the floor. 

Mike Conley and Tony Allen are clearly entrenched as the starting backcourt members, terrifying opposing offenses with their defensive skills. Jerryd Bayless is definitely going to earn some playing time thanks to his scoring prowess, and he'll likely split minutes between the two backcourt positions. 

Things open up for West beyond that, but he'd still be competing with other players for third-string minutes. 

Tony Wroten still has potential, even if his jumper wasn't any better in summer league than it was during his rookie season. The newly acquired Mike Miller will certainly take some run at the 2, which leaves West, Josh Akognon and rookie shooting guard Jamaal Franklin competing for the final guard spots in the rotation. 

Just like New York, Memphis isn't a location particularly conducive to lots of playing time. 

Championship Hopes

While the Grizzlies brought back all their key pieces, they didn't do much to improve after getting knocked out of the 2013 postseason by the San Antonio Spurs. Normally that would be fine for a team as strong as Memphis, but not this year. 

The Grizz finished No. 5 in the Western Conference, but they're falling back further from the top of the totem pole. 

While the West was already stronger than the East, it got even more dangerous at the top thanks to a few offseason moves. Acquiring Andre Iguodala pushed the Golden State Warriors into the realm of true contenders, as did the signing of Dwight Howard for the Houston Rockets. 

Houston and Golden State both appear highly likely to leapfrog past Memphis in the standings, and only the Denver Nuggets should fall back behind the Grizzlies. That makes them seem likely to earn the No. 6 seed, priming them for a first-round showdown with one of the truly elite teams. 

A title isn't unthinkable for Memphis in 2014, but it's even more unlikely than 'Melo and Co. getting to hold up the Larry O'Brien Trophy. 


While playing time would be comparable and the championship hopes less realistic in Memphis, it's the style that pushes the Western Conference squad over the top. West would be a fifth corner piece in the Knicks' puzzle, but he fits in perfectly with what Memphis is trying to do. 

First and foremost, West is a defensive threat at point guard.

He's by no means elite, but he did hold opposing floor generals to a 14.2 PER for the Dallas Mavericks during his last NBA season, according to 82games.com. The Grizzlies are a grind-it-out, defensively oriented team, and they need that second stopper in the backcourt. Wroten can fill the void, but at the expense of offensive competency. 

Moreover, there's no focus on perimeter shooting in this offense, although the presence of John Hollinger in the front office could eventually lead to a strict ban on mid-range shooting.

Take a look at West's heat map in 2011-12, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

He just scores. There isn't much of a method to his madness, although he's solid attacking the basket and draining those über-efficient corner three-pointers. 

But that's exactly what the Grizzlies need. 

Oftentimes, Memphis falls into the clutches of predictability, running everything through the post or relying too heavily on perimeter screens. It's part of what made Bayless an effective option off the bench; his unpredictability and knack for scoring in unconventional ways was crucial. 

For that reason, West is the ideal guard off the Memphis bench, especially because he'll come cheap and has to accept even a nearly insignificant role after missing an entire season. 

One thing is for sure, though. 

If the Grizzlies truly want to make him happy, just make sure he gets his donuts. And I'm not talking about the variety that involves a "0" in the minutes column along with a "DNP-Coach's Decision," but rather the edible kind. 


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