Our weekly look at Mavs newcomers:
DALLAS – There is no doubt that the Mavs will put Delonte West to good use when he returns from a fractured right ring finger, which will probably happen in the next week.
The question is how coach Rick Carlisle will opt to use West.
Will West start in the backcourt with Jason Kidd? Will he spell Kidd off the bench? That might depend on the matchups each night, according to Carlisle. The coach recognizes that the starting lineup with Vince Carter at shooting guard is the Mavs’ best plus-minus unit, but he also knows that Shawn Marion could use a break from chasing around all those quick point guards.
“There’s a lot of possibilities when you get a guy like Delonte back because he’s a two-position player,” Carlisle said. “His presence can impact other positions. More than anything, we’ve got to get him healthy first and then it will lighten Marion’s load defensively.”
West was coming off the bench when he suffered his gruesome injury on Feb. 15, when the bone popped out of the skin after he tried to make a steal against the Nuggets. He had told Carlisle that he enjoyed playing point guard with the second unit.
But West, whose return could significantly cut Rodrigue Beaubois’ playing time, isn’t picky about which position he plays or when he’ll get his minutes.
“I’ll play backup center if it’ll help this team win games,” West said. “That’s all it’s about. It’s not about scoring points. The All-Star game is over with. It’s about winning basketball games.
“We’re kind of talking too soon. We’ve got guys that are playing well. We’ve got a nice rotation. Even with me coming back, for the moment, my job is to root guys on and keep them motivated. I got to be the best guy at that and do my part. We’ve all got a part to do. Whatever they give me or whatever it is, I’m going to do it at the best of my ability.”
In West’s mind, his role isn’t about playing point guard or shooting guard, starting or coming off the bench. It’s about his mentality.
“I’m a guy that gets in there and gets after it [on] defense” West said. “I try to get some momentum plays and just create tempo.”
It's up to Carlisle to figure out how best to implement West's skills, intensity and intangibles.