When David West opted out of his contract for unrestricted free-agency it was met with sorrow and grief for many Hornets fans across New Orleans and across the globe. However most understand that West wouldn’t have received his payday which he’s been wanting for so very long. Because of that it is our right to look into the future to see where he could go, who might be needing his services and who’s willing to pay the big bucks.
There are three guidelines that we will use to see whether a team is in the running to sign David West to a long term deal that is around four years in length.
1. Is there an opening at the Power-Forward position for 35 minutes a game?
2. Does the team have the capacity to pay West 8-plus million a year?
3. Does the team have a winning future within the next two-years?
In all likelihood David West will want a contract in the range of a 4 year/35 million dollar to 4 year/50 million dollar deal. If he can get the most money available then he’ll probably take it. Having said that we do not know what the next CBA will look like, or even if there will be one done in time for next season.
A hard-cap could force West to accept a deal that was orginally closer to his 7.5 million dollar option.
For the purpose of this article we are going to shape contracts that are similar to the current CBA, that is, West’s value is in the range that he most likely will be demanding.
Teams Likely to Get West
When it was first announced that West was going to enter free-agency two teams immediately came to discussion, these were the Pacers and the Nets. For Indiana they seem to tick all of the criteria listed above. They have an opening at power-forward, they have the cap-room, but do they have a winning future?
The Eastern Conference is stacked. The Pacers scrapped through to the playoffs to take on the one-seed, the Chicago Bulls. They fought valiantly but went down in five. The East has the Bulls, Heat, Celtics, Hawks and Knicks who all seem to have somewhat bright futures. The Pacers, I believe, are not better than any of those teams. They do have the potential to be, but is David West the trump card? I don’t believe so.
I put the odds of DWest becoming a Pacer at around 50/50 but also question the logic of rolling the dice on a 31-year-old coming off significant knee surgery. I just think it’s too big of a risk if you have to invest $45-50 million. We also discuss former Hornet Darren Collison’s first year in Indiana, which, if you were watching, was fairly underwhelming.
I too think the Pacers should question whether they should go after him. But I also question whether West would be better served going to Indiana. Granted they have an owner, they are somewhat established in the mid-west region, but can they go after a championship and give him his pay day? I’m not so sure.
What’s interesting to me though, is that Larry Bird might just pull the trigger on West and give him that big contract. We as bloggers and writers say no, but sometimes managers say “Yes,” to generate team interest. Given that Bird is likely to leave the Pacers organisation at the end of next season (see Jared Wade), I think the prerogative to make a “splashy” move might be high on the agenda for Indiana.
Chances of acquisition: 10: 1
New Jersey Nets
The Nets have two reasons why they would pursue West. The first is that buying a big-name free agent could signal the movement up by the Nets into the East’s elite (top 4). Now this could be an illusion because would David really be that big of an acquisition?
The second reason they could approach West is that they would quite easily over-pay for him. This has positive and negative connotations to it, but none the less I think New Jersey is the only team out in the market, right now, who fits the brief best. They have an opening at power-forward, they have the capacity to easily outspend other bidders and finally they have an owner who proclaims they are all about championships.
There are set-backs to the Nets though when West considers them. For one, they aren’t really in a position to immediately become an Eastern Conference powerhouse. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are nice pillars to build on, but New Jersey doesn’t seem to have the role players necessary to compete as they traded away a lot of their youth.
The big thing that could hold New Jersey back though is Dwight Howard. While David West might be a nice acquisition for the ball-club, he wouldn’t make them an automatic and future contender. Acquiring Howard seems like the top billing for the Nets and if they overspend for West they might not have the capacity to acquire Howard as well.
Chances of acquisition: 7:1
New Orleans Hornets
Most people, namely me, ruled the Hornets out of the David West sweepstakes. A more rational thought entered my head, then I realised that New Orleans isn’t entirely out of the picture. The Hornets have the cap-room, they have the need at Power-Forward and to some degree, they are trying to win.
General Manager Dell Demps has stated how, “we want to retire his jersey here,” that’s how meaningful he is to this program. There are advantages to West returning as well as disadvantages. Many have speculated that it wasn’t just the franchises inability to capitalise on a talented roster, but terrible managment from the owner down. Some say this has frustrated the likes of Paul and West to a point where they want to leave. Yet I think this has turned itself around with Dell Demps and Monty Williams coming into the fold. Their professionalism and character have turned what was once a negative into a positive.
Hopefully West is able to see this and if a competitive offer comes to the table then perhaps he resigns. I just hope that the bridges haven’t been burnt to a point where they cannot be rebuilt.
Chances of acquisition: 5:1
Yes, wow, surprise. But I think the Nuggets could go after West if guys like Nene and Wilson Chandler sign more lucrative deals elsewhere. Now, this is quite unlikely, the Nuggets are quite hell-bent on keeping both of those two players, but if things do fall apart, don’t be surprised for them to start talking amongst themselves about David’s services.
The Raptors don’t really have a roster that screams talent, yet they are trying to rebuild and maybe signing one of the top free-agents might be a step in the right direction. The thing about the Raptors is that they aren’t necesserily showing signs of being on the up-and-up and paying for a 31-year old might not be the right direction. Still if they show him the money Jerry M. Style, then yeah, maybe.
Yes I know, they have Josh Smith, get off my case. Thing is, if they get rid of Smith (which they were sort of considering leading up to the draft) then getting West as a replacement might be the go. There is a problem though, the Hawks want to get rid of Smith’s big contract, so getting another Power-Forward with a 10 million-plus deal might not be the smartest business and roster move.
You read right, no typo, I put the Mavericks on the “Outside Shot” list. My reasoning is simple, Marc Cuban hates New Orleans, he hates it so much that his next championship will consist entirely of former Hornets. West will be the first one to go there as Dirk Nowitzki is forgotten about (this one is more of a joke…).
David West has a long time before he can begin the free-agency process. It’s one that I’m sure he’s looking forward to no matter the paramaters of a new CBA. For Hornets fans there is a strong likelihood that we can resign him. Though my sentimentality is strong towards him I’m not sure he’s lone signing ensures long term success for the franchise. My ideal scenario is to resign West and Landry. That way Carl can work his way to being the starter in two years time, while David takes more of a sixth man role into the latter stages of his career.
For other fans reading this, namely Nets or Pacers, I do believe your franchises will strongly consider West. New Jersey needs to make the decision on whether they have a shot at Dwight, and then back away from West. Or whether Humphris is more of a priority and not risk a 31 year-old coming off knee surgery.
For the Pacers I think the ultimate need at power-forward may be too tempting for Larry Bird to pass up. He’s on his final run with the organisation and you could see him trying to make a big move before he leaves.
I don’t know what West will do, but if the team fits the aforementioned criteria then it will be an easy decision for the two-time All-Star.