The Celtics have signed Delonte West to a contract, according to team president Danny Ainge, who would not reveal whether it is a guaranteed deal or training camp invitation.
West, 27, a troubled but talented swingman, gives the Celtics another proven entity as they vie for another championship run. Because of gun charges in Maryland, West will miss the first 10 games of the regular season, meaning he will not be available for the Celtics until Nov. 17 against the Washington Wizards.
Ainge has long been an admirer of West and regretted trading him to Seattle in 2007 in the Ray Allen deal. West played his best basketball in Boston, averaging 12.2 points and 4.4 assists in 69 games in 2006-07 but to match salaries, Ainge had to throw West in with Wally Szczerbiak to acquire Allen.
West was dealt to Cleveland in February 2008 and he played 2 1/2 seasons with Cleveland, the last plagued by the gun charges, in which he was arrested for carrying three guns and a bowie knife while speeding on a three-wheel motorcycle in suburban Washington D.C. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges and received home detention that would allow him to travel with his NBA team.
“Delonte has been one of my favorite players that I enjoyed watching in my time here with the Celtics,” Ainge told the Globe. “He is a competitor and we’re all aware (of his issues) and we’ve done a lot of checks and had a lot of conversation with Delonte and his people and we obviously have a long history with Delonte also and we think he can help us win.”
The Celtics already have 14 guaranteed contracts and it’s unlikely they would add a 15th with West, who received $500,000 from a buyout from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who acquired him in July from Cleveland. West is expected to sign a make-good contract that would be guaranteed if he remains on the roster by January.
“It was difficult when we traded Delonte,” Ainge said. “It wasn’t easy. We liked him. He was well-received by our fans, by our coaches and well-received by our teammates because he’s a guy who gives all he’s got every night. Delonte’s had some challenges off the court and I feel that right now that some of those challenges have given him some pretty serious wake-up calls. I think he’s actually in a better place today than when he left us a few years ago.”