Once Steve Nash hit the shelf with a broken fibula suffered in the second game of the season (now complicated by a nerve irritation in his lower left leg), the Lakers first tried Steve Blake at the point. He didn’t work out, and then got injured himself. Next came Darius Morris, a failed experiment if there ever was one. Currently, it’s Chris Duhon‘s turn, and get this: if you go by PER, he’s having his best year since 2009, despite averaging just 4.2 points and 3.8 assists a night (those numbers are up to 8.8 points and 7.8 assists as the Lakers’ starting point guard over the past four games). Times are rough for L.A.’s preeminent sports franchise, and at the top of that laundry list are the problems at the head of the snake. Enter Delonte West.
The 6-3 combo guard averaged 9.6 points and 1.3 steals in Dallas last season before being waived on the eve of this season after getting suspended twice for conduct detrimental to the team. West comes with baggage. He has history. He can be a little crazy; he has had a very public battle with bipolar disorder. He’s closing in on 30 years old. But this is something the Lakers must pursue. And they are, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who tweeted: “No firm decisions made yet but Lakers, I’m told, ARE weighing pros and cons of creating roster spot to sign Delonte West to ease PG crisis.”
The Lakers need to clear up a roster spot – always tricky with a team as deep in the luxury tax hole as L.A. is – and Stein says they’ll also look at Mike James and Jonny Flynn, as well as perhaps trading for Toronto’s Jose Calderon.
But West would be a major upgrade in the backcourt, and once Nash does return, he’d help solidify the backup spot (as well as sliding over to the two), one that Blake nearly sabotaged with his terrible play last season. In fact, West had one of the best years of his career with Dallas last season in limited minutes. Playing just over 24 minutes a night, the former Saint Joe’s star was a net minus-3.8 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end, while tossing in solid perimeter shooting and 3.2 dimes a game. Dallas relied on him as heavily as any team has: West racked up the highest usage rate (20.45) of his career, and was surprisingly effective in doing it, posting the highest aPER (16.67) of his last five years. Outside of Ramon Sessions at the end of last season, that number dwarfs anything a Laker point guard (Derek Fisher, Duhon, Blake, Morris) has produced over the past two years.
West knows how to fit in on a contender. He knows how to play off the ball, and has found ways to be effective playing with people like LeBron, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs had concerns he was negatively affecting their younger players. That wouldn’t be a problem with the Lakers because they don’t have any, and as one of the least accomplished veterans on the roster, West would have to fall in line. His calling card is defense, and he could immediately take the team’s pick-n-roll coverage from abysmal to at least average. Finally, he’s desperate, and his next chance will probably be his last one. You can’t tell me Delonte West doesn’t know that.
It’s not my money, but this move makes too much sense for the Lakers not to go through with it.
Should they sign West?
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