Delonte West is back; now what?
|11.15.10 at 4:37 pm ET|
For the month and a half, Delonte West has been treating his post-practice workouts as if they are a form of penance. For an hour or so after the team is done, West stays on the floor working with whoever will work with him. He goes through a litany of drills and shooting exercises filled with quick starts and stops.
Miss a free throw? Run down and back. Miss two? Do it twice.
The gym has been his sanctuary and his catharsis as he works to get himself back into game shape during his 10-game suspension, which was handed down by the league after he plead guilty weapons-related charges stemming from an incident in the summer of 2009. He’s not nervous. A little anxious maybe to see where his body is at this point, but not about getting back on the court.
“I know what I can do,” he said. “I’m very confident in what I’m able to do out on the basketball floor. They’re not asking me to do anything I can’t do. They’re not telling me to post-up and get 30 rebounds. It’s time to go play my game. That’s the best feeling ever.”
The Celtics have been waiting on him, as well. Doc Rivers feels that a backcourt combination of West and Nate Robinson will be a perfect match for their respective skillsets. On the one hand, West can take some of the ballhandling responsibilities from Robinson and allow him to be a scorer. On the other, West also offers a tough, physical defender.
“I think it helps,” Rivers said. “It moves [Robinson] off the ball half the time. I want Nate with the ball especially in our pick and roll package. It makes them both very comfortable.”
That’s been an issue for the Celtics so far this season. Robinson has not shot the ball well and has not had a strong start to his season. There have been flashes of brilliance, but the Celtics would like to see some consistency develop with their second unit and West is the kind of player who can provide some.
He is also likely to take away whatever time Von Wafer has been getting in the rotation, which has been limited. Wafer has appeared in seven games, but he has logged just 32 minutes and has taken only six shots.
West and Wafer had a pair of well-documented dust-ups already and some have wondered if Wafer’s time with the team would be coming to an end now that West is eligible to play again. That doesn’t seem to the case, at least not yet anyway. But Wafer did not do much with his opportunity, limited as it was, and now may be further edged out of the conversation.
“I still have to earn my playing time,” West said. “It’s a talented team. Guys that are out there earned the right to be out there. it starts here.”
Rivers said West will play Wednesday and while it will take him a bit to get his game back together, the Celtics have a comfort level with West. “He’s older,” Rivers said. “We’ve all matured a little bit. He’s still the same as far as he’s probably one of the most competitive people I’ve ever coached.”