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Delonte West needs to step away, get better

The Cavaliers have quite a conundrum on their hands.  On one side is the Delonte West that became an important part of a team that won 66 games last season.  On the other is a troubled young man trying to sort out his demons.  The team has tried to walk the tightrope since signing West to a 3-year contract last September.  After an arrest a few weeks ago, and West proclaiming on Monday that he was ready to focus on basketball, those demons rose again yesterday when West missed both practice sessions - both unexecused.

Danny Ferry had little to say about West's absence - 

"Delonte is in Cleveland," Ferry said. "He is addressing a personal matter and did not attend practice."

According to, West was in his home for the day and did not leave to come to practice. There was no indication whether West was planning on coming to today's workouts.

What the Cavaliers decide to do next is crucial.  This isn't your average, run of the mill troublesome athlete.  Delonte West is sick.  He needs help and in my mind constant oversight.  West, himself, admitted he got out of the routine of taking his medications and doing what he needed to do to keep his mind right.  Such behavior is common with people who suffer from depression or bi-polar disorder.  The medication makes them feel so good, fo so long, they actually talk themselves into believing they are healed, or that they can control it.  They stop taking their medication and the downward spiral begins.

It is easy to say at a time like this that the team leaders - LeBron James and even Shaquille O'Neal - should step in, talk to West.  Again, not that simple.  It never is with mental illness.

Perhaps the best course of action right now for the team is to get West the help he needs and distance themselves from him - remove the pressures of playing basketball - until he is back in his routine.  It might even be a good idea to allow West to handle his off-court issues(he has a Nov. 20th court date) before having him on the basketball court.

In no way am I suggesting the team abandon Delonte, and I don't believe they would.  At the same time, however, the last thing the Cavaliers need is a day-to-day Delonte watch.  Have West step aside, for now, and let both sides focus on what they need to do right now.  For the Cavs, that is getting ready for the season.  For West, it is something much more important - focus on getting healthy.