By Rob Mahoney
After a season of solid play and good citizenry in Dallas, Delonte West was re-signed for the 2012-13 campaign only to be dismissed in a manner that was as unexpected as it was unceremonious. We still don't have any articulated reason as to why the Mavs cut ties with West, but most reports point to a vague disagreement with head coach Rick Carlisle -- a believable possibility given West's emotive personality. It was a shame. West seemed to have a good working relationship with Dallas staffers and teammates, and the Mavericks are an organization with the infrastructure necessary to accommodate a player like West. Yet some line was apparently crossed in the lead-up to the season, leading Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban to take decisive action.
That decision didn't come without consequence. Once new Maverick Darren Collison's decision-making began to irk Carlisle, he had only Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones -- and later, Derek Fisher and Mike James -- to rely on in West's absence. Dallas' play has suffered all season due to the hole that the Mavs burned in their own depth chart, but West is reportedly making efforts to repair that relationship in the hopes that he might be able to re-join the Mavericks.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, West has officially entered the D-League player pool, which makes him eligible for a waiver claim by any of the D-League's teams. There are sure to be a number of potential suitors (the Grizzlies reportedly are weighing whether to sign West to a 10-day NBA deal), but atop the waiver priority list are the Nelson-owned and Mavericks-operated Texas Legends.
What exactly the Mavs would want to see from West is unknown but it's clear that he's an altogether superior player to Mike James, who currently fills minutes for Carlisle as a backup point guard. James' journeyed, dwindling NBA career made him an uninspired addition to the team, but he's been reasonably effective in too large a role. He'd make for a fine third guard, but Dallas is in much greater need of a more dynamic reserve who could take some of the pressure off of Collison. West fits that bill perfectly, though we shouldn't presume that he'll be streamlined from D-League waiver wire to significant NBA minutes overnight. Whatever grievance the Mavs had initially seems to still hang in the air, and it'll be up to both parties to make amends for the sake of a mutually beneficial solution. It's not often that players and teams have a chance to reconcile so soon after making a mistake. As of this point, there's no reported interest from the Mavs' side of this move, meaning that West's attempt to get back to Dallas could well end in Frisco. But adding West simply makes too much sense for the Mavs to overlook the benefit of having him around, and whether or not they ultimately opt to re-sign him, Nelson are Cuban will at the very least be able to explore the possibility of his return through a D-League trial.