Each week, ESPNDallas.com will take a look at the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate for the Dallas Mavericks, in order to see how the two are working hand in hand to improve one another.
Now with four games under his belt, Delonte West is starting to feel more and more comfortable in his current surroundings. He also felt incredibly welcomed when he rejoined the Texas Legends last week.
“It feels good coming back to the main offices here and seeing a jersey waiting for me," West said. "It’s time to try to make my return back to the NBA. I want the NBA to see me playing against the best competition out there underneath the NBA.”
With a little more time and traveling, West, 31, feels he's a better guard and better player now than he's ever been in his career. The experiences he's encountered have helped shape him into the player he is now. West did spend time in Venezuela prior to joining the Legends, but his knee filled up with fluid prior to playing there. That was the first time he's dealt with that kind of injury, so he spent his time there rehabbing.
It's been a long and winding road for the veteran guard as he continues to get back into the NBA. So far, West has produced some solid numbers in his four games with the Legends, averaging 14.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals. His four games with Texas represent the first set of organized games he's played in over two months.
Many last remember seeing West last summer in Las Vegas for the summer league. While he was looking for an opportunity there, he knows he wasn't as prepared to take the next step as he is now.
“I showed up in Vegas, just having another baby, and I was out of shape, underweight," West said. "I think I played in Vegas at 165 pounds. Right now I’m at 195 pounds. I’ve been training every day. I plan on playing this game until I’m 38 or 39 and hopefully putting up some Jason Kidd numbers like he did at that age. I take my career and training more seriously than I ever did before.
"This is the first time, besides playing in China, I’ve been auditioning when I’m in top shape. My game is on point. I don’t think I’ve been waiting on the NBA. I think the NBA has been waiting on me. They know my game I played for over eight or nine years. I’m more prepared than ever. I’ve got a wife and two kids. I’m more happy than I’ve ever been. The only thing to add to that is having a seat with an NBA team.”
Now healthy, focused, and in a good place in life, West is ready to make good on his comeback story.
"I just feel like I’ve never been more like a pro than I am now in my carer, whatever that means," West said with a laugh. "I’m excited. I’m excited to play against some good competition, but I know where I belong. I won’t stop until I get back there."
Mark your calendars
Just eight games remain in Texas' season. There is no longer any margin for error as they remain 4 ½ games behind the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Texas will head out on the road to face the division-leading Austin Spurs Friday at 7:30 p.m. They will then come back to Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco to host the Maine Red Claws in the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday, with the game tipping off at 7:00 p.m. The Legends will wrap their week up with a huge opportunity to make up some ground as they take on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on March 25.
Fans will be able to watch the D-League live on the NBA D-League YouTube Channel (YouTube.com/nbadleague), the Legends’ website, as well as via the NBA D-League Center Court mobile app -- the league’s free mobile application providing fans with access to NBA D-League content.
But not least …
The Legends will host a charity game night on March 21 and a weeklong social media campaign to benefit Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer. The Dallas-based non-profit organization is dedicated to raising awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research nationwide.
Additional information can be found online at TexLegends.com.
Most roster turnover came during the week as the New York Knicks announced on Thursday that they signed Ricky Ledo from the Legends to a 10-day contract. The signing is the 50th call-up of the 2014-15 season.