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Delonte West is Close to Getting Back on the Court

Praise the celestial basketball Gods, Delonte West is almost back. From

West won't play in tonight's game against the Houston Rockets despite some optimism spread late last week that he might be able to return as early as tonight. West said he is targeting his return at Miami on Thursday or at Orlando on Friday, but noted that next Monday's home game against the Clippers might be the more realistic date.

While it would be wonderful to see West be back in time for Thursday's showdown with the Heat, I'd expect Monday's game against the Clippers in Dallas to be the actual date of return.

West is very important to the Mavericks rotation, if you didn't already know. In short, he's a combination of departed Mavericks J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson: a tough, aggressive, physical defender and a penetrator who can run the offense for brief stretches. The Dallas front office was banking on West being able to replace the qualities of those two players for a bargain price and until his ghastly finger injury a month ago, he was.

And he couldn't come back at a better time. The stretch run is here for playoff position and the Mavericks defense has fallen off the last week or so. West will immediately help in that department and since his injury was to his off-hand, he shouldn't be too rusty from missing time since he's still be able to run, work out and shoot with his primary hand for a few weeks now. There will be some bumps for sure, but hopefully not quite as much as there usually is for a player who misses over a month due to injury.