There is a reason no one seemed to want Delonte West this offseason.
First, West was traded to Minnesota, which waived him swiftly in a cost cutting measure. It took almost a month before the Celtics, realizing their lack of backcourt depth with the departure of Tony Allen, decided to bring West back to Boston. Why did no one else bite? Well, as last year’s “LeMom” rumors show, West comes with a little baggage.
So should we be surprised that West was in the middle of an altercation at practice with Von Wafer? West reportedly was a little rough with Wafer when the two were covering ech other in a game of three-on-three. Wafer proceeded to head to the locker room, where West followed him and apparently threw a punch that led to a tussle between the two players.
First things first, I don’t think this has anything to do with playing time. Or it shouldn’t. West doesn’t have to worry about Wafer stealing his job while he is suspended. If anything, Wafer should be the one worried about losing his roster spot when West returns in eight games. In fact, Danny Ainge came out and said that neither player is in jeopardy of losing his job, and that the matter has been handled internally and the team will be moving on. But let’s consider the other ramifications of this occurrence.
West already had a negative reputation from previous instances like his bizarre weapons charges indictment (from a motorcycle traffic stop; you can’t make this stuff up) that lead to his 10-game suspension, as well as the rumors from his days in Cleveland. There is also the negativity, as wrong as it may be, surrounding his acknowledged bout with depression. Still, from all accounts, West is a good teammate and person. So why does trouble seem to follow him? And more importantly for the Celtics, is it a big deal?
I can’t answer the first question, but I’m leaning to no on the second. Listen, the Celtics are a team full of egos that are coexisting under the direction of Doc Rivers. I don’t think this situation will faze a veteran squad. Timberwolves fans might remember that Kevin Garnett took a swing at Kris Humphries when he was in Minnesota. Of course, Humphries didn’t stick with the team, but that isn’t the point I’m making. Basketball, as I’ve said before, is an emotional sport, and competition sometimes brings in the worst in people. And when that competition is among two people who are fighting for one spot, that is even more likely to be the case.
My take is that this will all blow over by the time West is back. Of course, I could be wrong, but let’s hope that isn’t the case. The Celtics are going to need West, and his defense in particular, this season. And if it comes with a little excess baggage, that is something that this team will have to deal with.