Delonte West last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season with the Dallas Mavericks. Since then, he’s been trying to make his way back, spending time in the D-League with the Texas Legends and playing with Fujian Xunxing in China this past season. Last month, Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reported West will be part of the Los Angeles Clippers summer league team in Las Vegas. He only turns 31 later this month, but this could be his last chance.
The Clippers make sense as a team who would give West a chance, given head coach Doc Rivers‘ prior relationship with West when they were both in Boston. When he played for Dallas, West was still a serviceable player, averaging 9.6 points in 24.1 minutes per game.
There’s a belief West is having trouble getting another opportunity in the Association because he’s a potential distraction. In Dallas, he was suspended indefinitely after an argument following a preseason game. Later in the same month, the Mavericks waived him.
West suffers from bipolar disorder. In a recent profile by David Haglund of Slate, West spoke about the stigma of mental illness:
Speaking with West on the phone last fall, I mentioned that an increasing number of teams were bringing in psychologists and psychiatrists to work with players. “I guess everybody crazy now, huh?” he quipped. “Maybe I’m not the only one then. Maybe there’s something to that.” Then he turned more serious. “Maybe it’s not a ‘crazy’ thing. Maybe it’s just a highly intense, stressful type of job that puts a lot of pressure on guys to perform and play.” Then there’s the stress that pro sports can put on families and the various outside pressures that athletes deal with. “Guys need somebody to talk to,” West says.
It’s a fair point, one that many of us fail to consider when we think about the behavior of West and other athletes dealing with the same illness.
VICE Sports also caught up with West after he came back from China, to get an insight on his mental state and how he still wants another shot in the NBA:
The Clippers make sense as a team interested in West. He would most likely sign at the veteran’s minimum, and provide insurance as a bench scorer should anyone from the rotation go down. Or, perhaps, this is just a favor from Rivers to help West get some attention around the league.