NBA teams sometimes deem a player untouchable after off-the-court issues make them a risk for any guaranteed contract. Even serious injury problems won't scare teams as much as when players are considered locker-room problems; the Cavs signed Andrew Bynum to a deal where only $6MM of his $12MM contract this year is guaranteed, with a team option for $12.5MM in 2014/15.
But the trend away from troubled players is never more evident than with former Celtics and Cavaliers guard Delonte West. West hasn't appeard on an NBA court since the 2011/12 season when he averaged 9.6 PPG, 3.2 APG and 1.3 SPG in a shade over 24 minutes a night for the Mavs. The 6'4" guard out of St. Joseph's University shot over 46 percent from the field and better than 35 percent from beyond the arc in his last season with a hungover championship team in Dallas.
But West's troubled behavior during his time in training camp last fall led the Mavs to cut him. West signed with the Development League's Texas Legends, but was tardy in reporting and only played in eight games for the team while averaging 10.4 points and 4.4 assists.
West turned 30 years old in July and after the Knicks and Grizzlies expressed interest earlier in the summer, the Knicks' interest waned. Despite the advocacy of Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, nary a whiff has been rumored about West even after he said he was open to a non-guaranteed deal.
The lack of interest is a little peculair considering the positive reactions to his play at Tim Grgurich's camp in Las Vegas in mid-August. But West's mental health struggles — he suffers from bipolar disorder — and his run-ins with the law over the years have scared teams off.
It's worth noting that Delonte's play on the court has never been the problem. He's shot slightly above league average from 3-point range over his eight-year career (37.2%), and he's averaged over 30 minutes a night for multiple playoff teams and title contenders, like the late 2000s Cavs. He plays hard defense and is an unselfish player who can be a contributor off the bench or as an interim starter.
Plenty of teams need help in the backcourt, but there are a lot of available guards still left on the market, including Richard Hamilton, whose free agent stock Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors assessed last week. But while most of the guards available may fall short of the experience and numbers West can bring to the table, the lack of interest from teams this summer leads one to believe teams are wary of West's issues off a basketball court.
Since the rumored interest by the Knicks, they've re-signed Pablo Prigioni and signed Beno Udrih to backup Raymond Felton. The Grizzlies were West's other potential suitor earlier in the summer, but they've already signed Nick Calathes to a two-year deal worth less than $2MM. While Calathes is talented, the Grizzlies still might want to bring West in to take a closer look during training camp.
Unfortunately, after so many issues completely unrelated to basketball still surrounding West, the talented guard is hovering in absentia after already missing the entirety of the 2012/13 season. If a team does take a chance on him and invites him to training camp, it'll likely they're trying to get a feel for how he meshes with the rigors of NBA life again.
A contender with a strong front office and an experienced coach is the sort of team that seems likely to take a chance on West sometime during the season if he doesn't catch on before training camp. But West's repeated chances to stay in the NBA are slowly dwindling.