INDEPENDENCE – Day Two in the will-he-or-will-he-not-show-up-at-practice saga of Delonte West came Wednesday and the Cavaliers sound unfazed by the situation.
West surprised everyone Tuesday by not showing up for the team’s first practice after appearing at the team’s Media Day Monday seemingly in good spirits.
The enigmatic and troubled guard faced the media a little more than a week after being arrested on gun charges. While it’s easy to paint this as a player who’s aloof and selfish even, his teammates said that’s not the case.
‘’Basketball has nothing to do with what’s going on, so he needs to take as much time as he needs and when he comes back we’re going to welcome him the way we’ve always done,’’ LeBron James said. ‘’When he gets back it’s going to be as if he was always here.’’
West has dealt with depression and bipolar disorder for years, a fact that came to light last year when he disappeared from training camp for 12 days, so this is nothing new for the Cavaliers.
‘’We’ve been around this block before with Delonte, so we know how to handle it,’’ James said. Point guard Mo Williams said that the basketball court is West’s respite from his reality, a place where he finds solace. For that reason, they remain patient. ‘’Outside of basketball, he struggles with things,’’ he said.
While neither Williams nor James has had any contact personally with West, they said that they’re sure that he’s going to be fine.
‘’I’m not worried about him. I would worry about someone who doesn’t have a supporting cast around him that really cares and is really not trying to help him,’’ West said. ‘’He’s in a situation that he’s getting professional help from everywhere.’’
Both said that the current situation is no distraction for the team, saying that he has their full support. But the reality of this particular situation is that while West sorts his issues out, time moves on and so does the team.
For now, Coach Mike Brown said his team will concentrate on maintaining a bunker mentality so that no outside noise creeps in.
There’s no sense of panic because the team signed Anthony Parker, a traditional, long shooting guard from the Toronto Raptors during the offseason. At some point if West pushes things too far, the organization will have to reach a point where some sort of decision regarding his future in a Cleveland uniform has to be made.