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NBA AM: David West’s Value In Free Agency
Posted By Lang Greene On May 30, 2013 @ 9:26 am In NBA | No Comments
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The Indiana Pacers signed former All-Star forward David West to a two-year, $20 million deal before the start of the lockout-shortened 2012 season. West seemed destined for a larger payday but suffered a season-ending left knee injury the prior season as a member of the New Orleans Hornets.
Last season, when West returned to the court, the impact of the torn ACL he suffered was on clear display. Make no mistake the veteran was still very productive and provided the young Pacers with a steadying presence both on and off the court, but he spent the majority of the campaign working his way back into game shape and gaining confidence in his surgically repaired knee.
This season, the 32-year-old West has regained his form from years past.
The veteran increased his scoring average from 12.8 points per night to 17.1 during the regular season and, with the playoffs now in full swing, has been instrumental in the Pacers’ fight to win the Eastern Conference versus the defending champion Miami HEAT.
Now, the question is how will the Pacers handle West’s pending free agency this summer?
Indiana currently has just under $57 million on the books in guaranteed money for next season. West, point guard D.J. Augustin and reserve wing Sam Young are the team’s unrestricted free agents. The team could also choose to issue qualifying offers to Ben Hansbrough, Jeff Pendergraph and Tyler Hansbrough. Those qualifying offers would make those players restricted free agents, giving Indiana the right to match any offer received for their services this summer.
But the main question and top priority is how the club will handle West’s situation. The former Xavier University standout has become such a key to their recent success, but he is on the wrong side of 30 despite seemingly regaining his form.
If West commands a similar contract, in the $10 million per season range, and the club also elects to pursue re-signing Tyler Hansbrough (which is expected) the small market franchise will undoubtedly be starring at the luxury tax line.
The Pacers do have options to create additional salary cap room to work with.
Injured former All-Star forward Danny Granger is on the books for $14 million next season. With the emergence of first time All-Star Paul George, Granger’s role on the team will most certainly be reduced moving forward (due to George and injury) and trade rumors have already begun to circulate regarding his future with the Pacers.
In speaking with West numerous times this season, the big man has always made it clear that his first priority is to finish the process with the Pacers. However, there are teams such as the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks who are at or near playoff levels and have plenty of cap space to target quality veteran leadership this summer.
The Pacers are currently battling the HEAT in the Eastern Conference Finals and the series is tied 2-2. West is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the series.
Warriors’ Malone On Kings’ Radar
The NBA community is about trends, whether it is trying to find the next European star in the early 2000s or league executives opting to go young instead of signing established veterans (Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen, Michael Redd, etc.).
The latest trend around the league is franchises opting to hire veteran assistant coaches with no prior NBA head coaching experience.
The Atlanta Hawks hired former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer. The Charlotte Bobcats have entrusted their future to former Lakers assistant Steve Clifford. The Phoenix Suns are giving former Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek a chance. Current Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw remains a hot name in coaching circles and is reportedly a candidate for the vacant Detroit Pistons position.
The Sacramento Kings are apparently ready to follow the same path, according to a report by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
The Kings are reportedly interested in Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone, who is also a top target of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Malone has garnered favorable reviews from his players, past and present, the latest coming from Warriors forward Carl Landry.
“He has the potential to have an immediate impact on the team,” Landry said. “If he does get the job, he’d probably be the best coach they’ve had since Adelman.
“Just his experience in the league, he’ll be able to bring it to the table and help the young players. He’s a guy that’s been to the Finals, been in Cleveland with LeBron [James], so he’s seen a lot and is usually in the playoffs still. … So he has that experience and he knows what it takes to win.”
While Keith Smart is still “officially” the head coach of the Kings, he is expected to be replaced once the team’s sale to Vivek Ranadive is finalized at the end of this week.
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