NBA AM: David West Wants Titles
There’s no denying the 2011 free agent class doesn’t have the same luster as last year’s crop which boasted stars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer.
However there will still be a few guys available who have the talent to shift the power structure of the league once the lockout concludes and addresses start to change.
One of those guys is two-time All-Star forward David West who opted out of the final year of his contract with the New Orleans Hornets to become an unrestricted free agent.
Securing West’s presence on the Hornets’ roster over the long haul is the team’s top priority this offseason and is viewed as a major step toward keeping All-Star guard Chris Paul from vaulting when his deal expires.
But for West opting out had little to do with the Hornets and more to do with ensuring his financial stability and a perennial chance of winning a title as his career winds down.
“I have to do what’s best for me and my family,” West told the News and Observer. “(Chris Paul) understands it’s all about winning, and as the years go by you can’t get them back. I want to win and win big, win a championship. But you’ve got to find the right situation, where it’s reality and not fantasy. I just want to be on that stage, have a shot at (a title) and see what happens.”
Since West joined the Hornets as a first round draft choice back in 2003 New Orleans has made four trips to the postseason, but only succeeded in advancing past the first round once.
For now until the actual start of free agency, the 6’9 West is vigorously rehabbing the torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) he suffered back in March against Utah when he landed awkwardly attempting a dunk.
According to West’s doctors the knee injury shouldn’t have any long term lingering impacts. The news of minimal damage to the knee outside of the ACL tear should keep West’s market value high once free agency opens.
“It was a clean injury, with no other damage to the knee,” said Jaime Holt, the Athletic Performance Center (Raleigh) physical therapist overseeing West’s workouts. “It was a ‘good’ injury, great surgery, and he’s doing well in rehab. He went back and saw Dr. Altchek (performed the surgery) a few weeks ago. They were thinking it would be January when he’d be cleared. After that visit, they’re thinking November.”
In the end West has continued to keep the door wide open regarding a possible return to New Orleans, but a championship quest has risen to be a top priority.
“It’s a place and a team that gave me the chance to prove myself and make a name for myself in the NBA,” West stated. “The city has a special place in my heart. But again, it’s a business.”
Ty Lawson Welcomes Andre Miller: When the Nuggets acquired Raymond Felton in February as part of the Carmelo Anthony to New York blockbuster, it became obvious early on that Felton had little interest serving as a backup to Ty Lawson on a long term basis.
It wasn’t that the two didn’t get along. They do.
It came down to the Nuggets starting point guard role and playing time.
Felton desired starter caliber minutes after establishing himself as a borderline All-Star candidate in New York last season and Denver wants to eventually hand the keys of the offense over to the emerging Lawson.
On draft night, the Nuggets dealt Felton to Portland and acquired veteran guard Andre Miller to serve as Lawson’s backup and mentor.
The Nuggets kept Lawson informed throughout the process, even presenting him with a list of potential targets and that type of communication impressed the young guard.
“It shows they have my best interests at heart, and they care what I think,” Lawson told Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. “I’m hyped that they came to me and asked me about it and told me the players they were thinking about getting.”
While the starting point guard spot hasn’t been officially handed to Lawson just yet, the presence of Miller gives the team a proven option in the event of injury or early season struggles from the younger player.
Lawson has welcomed the addition of Miller and is willing to play whatever role head coach George Karl has in mind.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” Lawson said in regards to starting. “I’m willing to do whatever is best for the team to win. Whatever the coaches decide is what the coaches decide. So I’m working hard and just trying to be the best that I can. I’m excited that Andre is coming. He’s a great player. He’s been here before. There’s a lot of things I can learn from him. He’s one of the top passers in the NBA. He makes tough passes look easy. I’m ready to work and get started.”
Will Aaron Brooks Return To Phoenix? The Phoenix Suns traded for Aaron Brooks, the 2010 Most Improved Player, at last season’s deadline to serve as a backup for the aging Steve Nash.
Prior to the start of the lockout the team also issued a qualifying offer to Brooks which will make him a restricted free agent and gives the franchise the right to match any offer for his services.
The 26 year old guard would have no problem returning to the Suns and the organization actually appears to be his first preference – even if it’s in a backup role.
“All signs point to me going back to Phoenix,” Brooks told HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy in an exclusive phone interview. “I had a good time. I like the organization and it’s a great city. I would love to continue playing in Phoenix. I would love stay with this team. This summer, I’m going to get more comfortable with the guys. I want to get to know everyone a little bit better and then hopefully we have a better season than we did last year.”
Brooks averaged 10.7 points and 3.8 assists last season, which were significantly down from the 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game he tallied in 2010.
Part of last season’s struggles were due to an early injury which limited his court time, the second portion had to do with adjusting to a new environment at midseason, which Brooks admits contributed to some of his production decline.
“All of the guys there are cool, but it was awkward for me because I’ve never been in that position,” Brooks said. “I’ve never switched teams in the middle of the season, but they did a good job of making me feel comfortable while I was there. It was just different being thrown into a situation like that.”
Nash has only one year remaining on his current deal, so it would appear Brooks has a shot to be the team’s starter of the future if the veteran decides to hang up the high-tops for good or leave via free agency after the 2012 campaign.