Brown to leave West on Cavs bench
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Delonte West sat under the basket after practice on Monday chatting with teammates. Cleveland's troubled star was expected to face reporters for the first time since taking two leaves of absence during training camp and missing the Cavaliers' first three games.
Instead, he quietly slipped through the door and out of the building.
He wasn't ready yet.
West has already shown he's good to go on the court, and coach Mike Brown isn't placing restrictions on him, although Brown won't start West on Tuesday night against Washington.
"I'm not worried about his minutes if he's active," Brown said. "There's no coddling or anything like that. If he can play, he's going to play."
West made his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers during Saturday night's 90-79 win against Charlotte, scoring 13 points in 24 minutes.
It was a turbulent offseason for West, who has battled bipolar syndrome. He could still face a league suspension for misdemeanor weapons charges against him in Maryland. Last week, his wife filed a domestic violence report against him.
Brown said Monday he is "definitely going to go with what we have right now," meaning Anthony Parker will continue to start and West will continue to come off the bench.
"I'd like to take a look and see how we're going to play right now," Brown said. "Only time will tell, but I'm definitely going to go with what we have right now, the way we have our starting five."
West started 64 games for the Cavaliers last season and averaged 42 minutes in the playoffs, when Cleveland was eliminated by Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals. West can play either guard position and evolved into the team's second-most important player behind LeBron James.
The Cavaliers are 2-2 after opening the season with losses to Boston and Toronto. Brown and James both cautioned during the preseason that Cleveland could get off to a shaky start until West's situation was resolved and the new faces blended with the old.
After one week, that's already happening.
"Having [West] back is huge," guard Mo Williams said. "He had a great game when he came back. As a team, you see sparks where we can be elite. Then you also see times where we can improve."
Throughout the preseason, Brown referred to West's situation as a day-by-day process. Now that West has been cleared and has rejoined the team, Brown isn't anticipating further setbacks.
"He's here just as much as LeBron is here or Shaq or Mo," Brown said. "There is nothing special or different I'm thinking about doing with Delonte. In terms of all that other stuff, I don't even think about it."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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