The Hornets’ David West went down in a heap Thursday night, with what the team officially described as “left knee trauma” at the time. Further tests on Friday revealed the injury to be a torn ACL (according to multiple reports) which will rule West out for the remainder of this season.
While the team might be alright in the short term without West, and is still more likely than not to make the postseason, its long-term prospects are very much in question. West’s contract runs through next season, but he has an opt-out clause which could allow him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
West turned down a contract extension earlier this season, but depending on how long the rehabilitation process takes, he may choose to now play out that final year if the offers aren’t as strong as they might have been before the injury.
There’s also, of course, the question of Chris Paul’s status as the long-term face of the franchise. Paul can’t become a free agent until the summer of 2012, but as we saw with Carmelo Anthony this season, there are other ways in the NBA for players to get to play with the team of their choosing. Especially if West’s injury keeps him out longer than expected, or if it turns out he’s played his last game for the Hornets because he ends up leaving in free agency.