It was announced today that New Orleans Hornets power-forward David West will opt-out of his contract and test free-agency despite suffering a serious knee injury. Marc Stein broke the news on ESPN.com:
Despite suffering a season-ending knee injury in March, New Orleans Hornets power forward David West is expected to opt out of the final season of his contract this week and become a free agent, according to sources close to the situation.
The Hornets, sources said, would still love to sign West to an extension before Thursday’s deadline. But it’s believed that West — even in a financial landscape forecasted to be more restrictive starting next season and even factoring in his injury — will eventually earn more in free agency than he could in an extension that would have to be calculated with next season’s $7.5 million salary as a starting point.
Free agency will be delayed if the NBA, as expected, imposes a lockout July 1. But sources say only an unforeseen rehabilitation setback in the next 72 hours would change West’s plans.
This is yet another step back for Hornets management in what has been a very unsuccessful off-season. West has been a Hornet for his entire career, but it’s no doubt that he wants to get pampered to. Every player wants to see what free-agency is like, to be wanted. Dell Demps has said since the very beginning that retaining West and Landry was his top priority this offseason, and it appears that is still the case.
West will most likely want a 4 year 40 million dollar deal, but who is really going to offer it to him, after coming off a serious knee injury? This seems to be a serious risk on West’s part because not only is there the knee injury problem, there’s also the big issue of CBA negotiations and the likely lockout. If a lockout were to be put into effect then free-agency would never begin.
What does this mean in the big picture? Well if West decides to sign elsewhere we (as Hornet fans) can kiss Chris Paul goodbye. I still think New Orleans has a very realistic shot of resigning West, but if he decides to sign elsewhere the Hornets are effectively in ruins.
This is terrible news and I should probably take a few steps back from the ledge, but I can’t help but get more and more depressed about this team because they haven’t shown anything from an organisational stand-point to reward the loyalty shown by fans (and the 10,000 season ticket holder mark).
What makes things that much worse is when the lockout is put into effect we as fans will be left in limbo as no tangible news of West’s decision will come until it ends (which could be a year from now it looks like).
So Hornets fans, I advise to take two or three steps back, and remember that at least we have football.