When it was reported that David West would decline his player option with the Pacers for next season to become an unrestricted free agent, it was at least a little bit of a surprise.
West could have earned $12.5 million next year by staying in Indiana, and then entered free agency right as the salary cap is set to spike in advance of the 2016-17 season.
But at age 34, and after playing 12 NBA seasons, West wanted to try to secure a multi-year deal now instead. And, it appears as though he already has his sights set on his next destination.
Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report:
League source: David West is “very likely” to sign with the Knicks come FA. “He knew that before he chose not to opt in” with the Pacers.
It’s unclear what the Knicks would offer West, but even if he were able to secure a two-year deal in the $8 million per season range, he’d already have set himself up to receive a nice little raise.
West has a reputation of being one of the league’s actual tough guys, and is someone whose leadership style has traditionally commanded the respect of his teammates behind closed doors. Carmelo Anthony is more the lead-by-example type, so depending on who else New York is able to add in free agency, a veteran voice like West’s should be a welcome locker room addition.
West averaged 11.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 28.7 minutes per contest with the Pacers last season.
Everything had been coming together for the Pacers in their bid to play a faster, more open style.
Paul George was preparing to play power forward. The more methodical David West opted out. Myles Turner, a potential stretch five, fell to Indiana’s No. 11 pick.
But the biggest variable – literally and figuratively – worked against them.
Zach Lowe of Grantland:
Roy Hibbert will make $15,514,031 next season. He definitely wasn’t getting that on the open market.
But there was some thought he’d opt out to get to a team that values him more than the Pacers do. They still might try to make that happen – by trading him.
It’ll be tough to find teams willing to pay Hibbert that much, so the most likely course is Hibbert playing out the season with Indiana and then leaving next year in free agency. In the meantime, this could get awkward.
At least Hibbert will get paid well for dealing with it.
While the Pacers wait for Roy Hibbert’s decision on the final year of his contract, they will also be dealing with the free agency of another one of their core players. According to a report from the Indianapolis Star‘s Candace Buckner, David West is opting out of the final year of his contract, which would pay him $12.6 million for next season.
At 34, West is probably not going to get another contract that pays him anywhere close to the per-year salary that he was making with the Pacers. But it’s easy to picture him wanting a little more long-term security on a smaller multi-year deal, be it in Indiana or elsewhere.
The Pacers could be looking at the end of an era with their current core if they lose West and Hibbert, who can also opt out. Last season was basically a lost year because of Paul George’s leg injury, but Larry Bird and Kevin Pritchard may decide they need to retool with younger players around a newly healthy George going forward.