First came the random texts into the 98.5 The Sports Hub radio show. Next came the 128-bit encrypted email to Redsarmy.com's inbox (which rumor has it, that John needed to hire the same hacker that framed Carmelo Anthony to decipher it). Next came the report from the Boston Herald's Inside Track about the infamous Delonte West supposedly doing some apartment hunting in Waltham. Giddy-up ladies and gentlemen, Delonte has returned to the 617.
The Celtics are truly intending on bringing him back for another go-around in green and it's a potentially a huge coup for Danny Ainge. Strictly speaking on basketball terms this is a proverbial no-brainer, especially if the deal is a rumored 1-year non-guaranteed minimum. Delonte has plenty of basketball skills, there is no debating that. He's a respectable outside shooter (44.7% FG, 32.5% 3PT career), an excellent free throw shooter (81.8% career) and gives you a little bit of everything else (10 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds 1 steal, career). He gives an above average effort of defense and without question hustles hard, almost too hard, which has caused some nagging injuries.
Unfortunately anything involving Mr. West (as in James West, Will Smith's character from the awful film: Wild, Wild, West) includes some hefty baggage. By now we've all been aware of the madness surrounding Delonte. The stories are so surreal that even Hollywood turned down the script for Delonte movie, citing them as "too unrealistic." Go ahead and make jokes about Delonte and Gloria James, it's too easy. Have at it with the heat packing motorcycle rides he could be potentially taking up and down Storrow Drive. For Delonte's sake, this team could be more than his ticket to a championship. It could be his path towards his own salvation.
Danny Ainge and THIS Celtics organization do their homework. Ainge has never shied away from such madness. He's scoffed at the thought of Stephon Marbury infecting the locker room with his oddities. He traded solid veterans Eric Williams and Tony Battie for Ricky (that's spelled "R-I-C-K-I-I") Davis once upon a time. He acquired another gun-wielding guard, Sebatian Telfair, seemingly without hesitation. Tempting the destiny of that 2008 championship team (as well as a developing Rajon Rondo's psyche as a young and stubborn point guard) he brought in another loudmouthed veteran in Sam Cassell.
Ainge isn't afraid. He's brought on the one-time dominant LA Laker, Shaquille O'Neal to help solidify the Celtics front line while the incumbent starter, Kendrick Perkins "earns his starting role back." He brought the brain trust and the Big Three with him to Detroit to convince the brash Rasheed Wallace of all people to join them for one more run, even though Sheed had one foot in the proverbial retirement grave.
At the end of the day don't be surprised one bit that Ainge filled that final roster spot with a veteran's minimum deal for Delonte West. In fact, this may be the team best suited for Delonte both on and off the court. Sure he'd be fighting for minutes with Nate Robinson. But if you were counting on seeing Avery Bradley in green more often than Maine Red Claw red, then you're mistaken.
This group of veterans may be just what Delonte needs to get his life back on track. Several players throughout NBA history have lost their way only to be blackballed from the league. Guys like Roy Tarpley, Smush Parker, Craig Hodges, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Rashad McCants and Michael Ray Richardson come to mind. But Delonte has a chance to change the path he's on, much like Chris Andersen of the Denver Nuggets did.
More importantly, Doc Rivers may be the most qualified basketball person to help guide him. Doc always loves to tell people that "Doc" is just a nickname. In my opinion however, now that Ainge has brought Delonte back to the green, then Doc will certainly earn an honorary green PHD in psychiatry and sports management. It's not easy massaging all of those egos and diverse personalities on the Celtics, and Doc has been exceptional at it. He will certainly pass his basketball dissertation if he can make it all work this year. Especially if he can guide this team to banner 18, along with the redemption of Delonte West.