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Delonte West, The End of the Offseason

 

Let’s be clear: This is a great deal for the Celtics. They are getting a league average player with major post-season experience, and they’re getting him for the minimum salary (about $1.1 million for West) and the same amount in luxury tax payments. While the Grizzlies ownership is nickel-and-diming the team’s first-round draft picks to save Rudy Gay’s beer money, the C’s ownership is throwing $2.2 million at a player with a shaky mental health history—even though the team already had 14 players under contract and one back-up (Von Wafer) playing the same position as West.

This is a good period to be a Celtics fan. Don’t forget that.

Again: This is a great deal, and it’s a great deal because the C’s aren’t giving up any basketball assets to make it happen. And that, to me, is the story of this off-season.

With only the mid-level exception and some pseudo-Bird Rights, the Celtics have signed Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Wafer, West, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels, all without giving up a single basketball asset. The Celtics are the deepest team in the NBA, 1-15.

Perhaps they could have nabbed Rudy Fernandez in exchange for a first-round pick and Avery Bradley. I have no idea. But West is better than Fernandez, and they got him for nothing. First-round picks, even middling ones, are going to be crucial for this team as the core leaves the NBA, and upgrading the bench without sacrificing one of those picks is a strong outcome.

Back to West, in bullet point form:

• The competition for back-up guard minutes is going to be intense. A team can only dress 12 players for each game, so Wafer, Luke Harangody, Semih Erden and Avery Bradley (and, if things go badly, West), will be spending tons of time in street clothes or (for the young guys) the D League.

West is basically a two guard, though he’s capable of playing the point for a possession or two if Rajon is tired and Nate Robinson is being stupid. But Wafer and West are like insurance policies for each other. They are both unpredictable in very different ways, and we should not be shocked if one of them fails to make it through the season or withdraws into an unproductive shell.

Both could also be major post-season rotation players capable of creating points when the C’s offense sputters. It’s better to have two wild cards than one, right? It definitely is in UNO.

• The pressure is on Marquis Daniels. He is the only back-up small forward on the roster, unless you count Harangody, and I’m very, very, very skeptical that we’re ever going to see Harangody at the three in a meaningful game. Daniels has played more than 62 regular-season games just once in seven NBA seasons.

• West is a versatile offensive player, the sort of player who can make tough shots and create points during those dreaded offensive droughts that killed Boston last season. Check out his shot location stats on Hoopdata: He gets to the rim, he has a mid-range game and he’s an above-average shooter on threes and long twos. He can create off the dribble, and he’s an excellent passer.

He can be turnover prone, and with the exception of his career year in ’09, he has been mediocre at finishing shots at the rim. But after years of watching TA dribble the ball off his foot, it will be nice to see key back-up minutes go to a competent offensive player.

• West is a rugged defender. He’s a classic “under-sized” two at 6’4”, but every objective measure we have suggests he’s an asset on defense. The Cavs gave up significantly fewer points with West on the floor in each of the last three seasons, according to Basketball Value’s plus/minus numbers. Playing with LeBron and Anderson Varejao obviously helps in that regard. Basketball Prospectus shows us that West’s direct counterparts—the guys he guarded—produced at well below their average levels when they faced him.

He’s not Tony Allen, but West will do fine against shooting guards in the C’s defensive system. He’s about 30 pounds lighter than TA, so he won’t be able to defend LeBron (and other strong small forwards) should the C’s and Heat ever meet in the post-season. That would mean more work for Pierce and Daniels.

Look: I get how this could end badly. West will already miss the first 10 games of the season due to a suspension, and last season proved that his moods could impact his play and the way he interacts with his teammates. But he was a model teammate as recently as 2009, and he could just as easily thrive in a veteran-heavy locker room filled with players who know and like him.

And it’s a risk-free deal, as long as you’re not the one signing the luxury tax checks. And I’m not, at least not directly. So sign me up.

  • Mark

    This is a no brainer, very good move by Danny Ainge. There is a risk but at the lowest cost and
    with Delonte’s skills and experience its well worth making this sort of move. Now we need a good minimal trade for a young Athletic SF who can hold his own to backup Paul Pierce and the Green Machine should put up at least 60 wins and go deep into the playoffs.

  • Perry

    … he will miss the first 10 games due to the gun suspension …

    It’s a killer move though, and I am thrilled that the roster wasn’t compromised this summer. If two of the three (Quis, Wafer, West) play up to their potential I see no reason why Pierce and Allen would play over 33-35 minutes a night.

  • NC

    Great trade. I’m amped to have Delonte back.

  • ball on the floor

    it’s questionable that perk can bounce back from this serious injury. i expect danny to trade him in february for a defensive-minded sf. more likely if quis goes down which is probable.

  • srb

    Wow, celtics.com already has him listed on there and – this is huge – they have him at #13 again. Man I am glad I never got rid of that t-shirt jersey I bought in 2006.

  • http://www.celticstown.com Tommy King

    Great article, Zach. You brought up some great points as to why the signing was so good. West should immediately leap-frog Von Wafer as the backup shooting guard. Like all the other signings this offseason, the risks are there, but at such a good price, Ainge would have been stupid to turn West away. My only concern is that Rivers will have trouble sticking to a rotation, an inclination he has shown in the past when he has many options. Not a bad concern to have, but I do not want West to take any of Robinson’s minutes at PG, as Robinson will fare much better with a defined role, game in, game out.

  • Jeff

    Doc will most certainly have Delonte as the first wing off the bench come the start of the season. He has been more consistent through his career and is defensive minded.

    As for speculating that they will trade Perk for a wing…fat chance. No one would do that trade with Perk coming off an injury, no chance at all that someone deals for him at the deadline. He’ll hardly have played by that time and they won’t see if he has recovered.

    Danny will actually use that as the perfect opportunity to resign Perk to a longer deal. He will lock him up at a much lower rate than the other top NBA Centers.

    If you look around the NBA the top Centers would have to be:
    Dwight
    Bogut
    Yao
    Bynum
    Perk

    Those are probably your top 5 Centers. Each one of those other guys makes AT LEAST $13 mil a year or so.

    Danny will use this injury to resign Perk in the $7-$8 mil range and get another steal. Then when the rebuild comes around they would have:
    RR ~$10mil
    PP ~$15mil
    Perk~$8mil

    That leaves them roughly $23 mil to play with, under current cap and player salaries will most certainly be lower with the new CBA. They would likely be able to get one star and another solid player to fill the rotation and then get other MLE type players on the bench while resigning their own FA’s like Bradley, Harangoddy, Erden, etc.

    DA is working mastery over the present and future of the NBA.

  • DeVelaine

    I also have a feeling that Perk would absolutely be livid if he got traded. To the point that he would find a way to destroy us for whichever team he played for later. Keeping him with Rondo is pretty much a requirement, I think.

  • mike

    perk is going nowhere…no chance…he’s the top on ball defensive center in the league…and only what, 25? shaq and joneal are 2 year guys at best…it’ll be pp, rondo perk, and maybe bradley coming out of the lockout…

    btw, bradley, say hello to the d league…wafer better impress in the first ten games or he may sit….

    von could show the ability to match up with some smaller 3s using guts and quickness..he’ll still get time especially with quisys injuries

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    Yes, Wafer has played some limited minutes at the three spot in the past.

  • Tom

    Who is going to defend Lebron? Pierce can’t guard him for 42-45 minutes a game, neither can Allen guard Kobe. We need a stopper

  • Tom

    I meant Wade, not Kobe.

  • mike

    one of the other d west articles…it could be this one, but i don’t have time to reread…d west is an above average defender….he has the tenacity to give dwade trouble, wafer is also big/athletic enough, though his defense is questionable…

  • Kb

    regarding best centers in the league, i would have to put al horford ahead of perk because of overall game. nene is pretty good also

    i don’t think it’s wise for the c’s to trade perk for anyone, it’s hard to get good big guys esp if you’re in the same conference as dwight howard for possibly his entire career. hopefully he can polish his offensive game in the next few years and have a marcus camby like career with excellent defense

  • David

    I like the Delonte West pickup alot which could pay off in a big way this season, but given that we still need a defensive small forward type who can take on Lebron, D Wade and Kobe come playoff time, is there any conceivable scenario in which we see TA back in a Celtics uniform at the trade deadline???

  • Perry

    But is Delonte the final tweak? Lafayette and Gaffney will compete, and both are non guaranteed.

    Based on guard depth I don’t see Lafayette making the cut, but TG has size and mobility just in case Quis pulls a disappearing act or gets hurt. Gaffney might be a smarter insurance policy than Wafer since he will be 3rd on the SG depth chart.

    Wafer’s contract is guaranteed for only $150k. Should he not pan out it would be small potatoes to eat. My take is Wafer is a bubble player, similar to how Darius Miles entered camp a few years back. Erden could be on the bubble too now that Shaq has arrived.

    Danny could keep Wafer though as insurance and deal him and perhaps a #1 for a solid backup for PIerce come trade deadline. I am not sure Wafer could be dealt sooner since he is a 4 year veteran. Nevertheless, Danny played this perfectly. For a roster that’s well over the cap there still is some flexibility.

  • cos

    let me continue to bang the drum here. Who is going to back up Double P? we need some defensive depth at the 3.

    i like west but its getting redundant with west/nate/wafer/bradley.

    Hey Lowe, any ideas on what we can get in terms of backup threes with some combination of nate/wafer/quis plus other considerations outgoing?

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    Erden is fully guaranteed, I believe, though I’d have to check.

    As for roster additions (the Pierce back-up questions), the roster is now (basically) full. Adding another back-up would require cutting someone.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    What are the chances we trade Ray for a young 3 guard like Wallace (Bobcats), Granger (Pacers), Butler (Wiz), or Howard (Mavs)? Or even a guy like Turkoglu (though I’m not a big fan)…

    My thought here is Ray could obviously help a young team that needs some vet leadership and scoring (which he’s certainly capable of providing) – and we’ve got a sudden influx of depth at the guard position that might be able to absorb a bit of his offensive production. I am a huge Ray Allen fan – I think he’s as quality as it gets among professional athletes – but if we could find another scorer that can create shots/offense for himself, help out at the 3 spot and play a little D, we’d look a lot tougher.

    I was just thinking…what if we had a guy like Butler or Howard that can play both the two or three; can run the floor with Rajon; can be effective scorers and defenders…we’d look much more like the Miami Heat’s lineup (All Stars at the 2-3-4 spots), but we’d go 2 deep at every position…we’d also have one of the best point guards in the league…it’d be scary.

    As much as I love Ray, I think this year’s team could live without him if we were able to get a stud youngster in return…is that out of the question?

  • CsFanInArkansas

    (sorry – Josh Howard with the Wiz and Butler with the Mavs)

  • Rangatiratanga

    Thinking this through last night i’m starting to like this move by DA.At the vets min, DA would have been mad to pass on him.Who knows maybe West changes his tune here in Boston.
    I like the official statement:

    WE ARE THE DEEPEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE 1-15.How do you like them apples.

  • Perry

    @cos

    Based on contract flexibility management decided to load up on SG depth. That does leave the SF spot vulnerable.

    Perhaps it makes sense to have the added depth behind Pierce who plays aggressive defense and has been known to incur early foul trouble whereas Ray Allen is less of a threat to foul out.

    If Wafer isn’t getting consistent minutes it may make sense to move him elsewhere. You can toggle Quis, West, and even Nate at the 2 spot depending on the flow of a game.

    Erden is guaranteed, but his price is small enough to eat … if the front line stays healthy and Perk returns on schedule.

    By default, health at each position will determine the next roster move.

  • Rangatiratanga

    Wafer,Quis are capable of playing the 3 i don’t see any problem with that.
    No way is DA trading Perk at the deadline,why would he.No team would be willing to trade for him anyway coming off an injury close to the deadline.We need Perk for the playoffs, even if he’s not 100%.
    I wouldn’t mind a Sheed comeback round February either.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    solid signing. this team is perfect to roll for the regular season. lots of flexibility for backups to shuffle positions, eat minutes from vets, and win games. the previous predictions of the celtics finishing 4th in the east can go in the garbage, they will definitely finish top 3.

    i agree with everyone saying the only question is a defensive minded backup for pierce. none of these guys can impact vince, bron, deng, jj, melo, durant, roy, maggette, manu, or kobe. its not about stopping them, but gotta grind and make them spend energy getting points over 7games.

    i’m happy to roll with this crew until january and if quis hasn’t elevated, consider packaging some backcourt depth (and/or baby) for that 3stopper.

    note: harangody, erdin and bradley aren’t going to see the floor this year. might as well send them to Dleague right away.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    No bites on my Ray Allen trade question (above)?

    I was really hoping to get some of your (wiser people than me) opinions…

  • Perry

    @ddtk

    You’re right. No question they can wait a few months and watch how the roster shakes out. I have no problem going to war with this roster. In terms of continuity we have the edge over Miami and have enough front line depth to match Orlando — even without Perk. This bunch will mix it up with any marquee team and no doubt get under their skin in a mental aspect.

  • Sophomore

    Von Wafer is listed at 6’5″, 210. That’s pretty undersized for a 3.

    Bottom line, if PP or Quisy go down we’ll be hurting at the 3. So we’ve got a weakness – but then so does every other team in the NBA.

  • I love Green

    Good job Danny.

    Nate Robinson
    D-West
    Marquis Daniels
    Big Baby
    Shaq

    Whats that you ask? An average teams starting lineup? No, thats our bench. And I’m leaving out the offensive fire cracker Von Wafer because his D is questionable. Good lord our bench is stacked.

    Against the Heat our bigs are going to shit on their bigs. We’ll pack the paint, scoring and rebounding at will. Then when Lebron or Wade, or someone else starts to creep towards the paint to help on the boards, our big men can just kick it out to Pierce, Ray, West, or Nate Rob.

    AND against the Lakers we can go with a Shaq and Jermaine frontcourt to guard Gasoft and Bynum.

    DAMN I’M PUMPED!

  • ondioline

    Way to sign LeBron’s mom’s boyfriend.

    Watch West’s minutes spike vs. the Heat, kids.

  • http://celticshub idunno

    Its looking bleaker for Bradley every day.

    But all n all good signing

  • cantwaitforopeningnight

    we can give wafer SF minutes. remember, Tony Allen is 6’4 and he’s the primary backup for both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce during the playoffs. So why can’t Von Wafer at 6’5 can’t be an option at 3?

  • carlosrizik

    I like West. He’s better than Fernandez, plays hard, is very good at the defensive end. He’s a good free throw shooter and has played a lot in the post season the last three years, so he’s somebody you can count on when playing time matters the most. I like our team and if there are no serious injuries I have no doubt we will return to the Finals.

  • celtics freak

    quisy is always having injury problems why not try to trade him for fernandez and if it doesnt work add a 1st rounder to that deal

  • DeVelaine

    @cantwait: Well… Wafer at the 3 is in question because we don’t know how well he’s going to be able to defend the 3. He may be able to play it on offense, but we don’t win with offense, we win with defense.

  • Jeff

    Rondo’s mom doesn’t live in Boston does she?

  • mitch

    come on guys, let’s get off the mom jokes…because delonte just got off yours :)

  • Sophomore

    @ mitch ftw.

  • wayne7779311

    If MD doesn’t work out, don’t be surprised if Harangody gets a look-see. It would probably be a split job shared between Wafer and Harangody. Harangody definitely has the size at 6’8′ 252. He’s a great scorer & rebounder…just may be a little slow to guard more athletic strong 3′s. Artest uses strength & leverage to compensate for lack of great speed. Notwithstanding, it remains to be seen that he’s too slow to guard 3′s…and I think that the coinsideration remains totally open for Doc and DA. He really stood out greatly in the summer league. The guy has a lot of grit and hustle…and he just may end up the 3rd option behind Marquis.

  • Seth

    “West is basically a two guard, though he’s capable of playing the point for a possession or two if Rajon is tired and Nate Robinson is being stupid.”

    I literally laughed out loud at this sentence. This is beautifully said.

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