David West will probably put on this jersey again, but what are the rest of his options?
David West doesn't get talked about often, but he's a marquee free agent this offseason, and his free agency is of the unrestricted variety. He can pick and choose his destination, even if the Indiana Pacers seem like the clear-cut favorites to retain his services.
Coming off a 2012-13 season in which he played excellent defense while averaging 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.0 steals with a 20.15 PER, West should be able to sign one more contract that gives him eight figures a year. He made $10 million this campaign, and it's clear that he has a number of quality years left in the tank.
Returning to the Pacers seems like the best option, both for his checkbook and his chances at winning a title, but there are four other potential landing spots for him this summer.
Do any of them have a realistic chance at luring him away from Frank Vogel, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers?
Note: All contract information comes from Spotrac.com.
Just as is the case with virtually every other marquee free agent out there this summer, the Atlanta Hawks and David West could be a match made in heaven.
"Could" is the key word there, as it all depends on what general manager Danny Ferry does with the rest of the roster. After all, the Hawks go into the offseason with only Al Horford, Lou Williams, John Jenkins, DeShawn Stevenson and Mike Scott under contract for the 2013-14 season, and both Stevenson and Scott have non-guaranteed deals.
Anything could happen.
I'm not going to speculate about the rest of the undetermined portion of the roster, but if the Hawks signed West, they'd almost certainly bring back Jeff Teague, who enters the summer as a restricted free agent.
As we've seen with George Hill and West, the power forward is a great option for both pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop sets. And although Teague is a slightly worse option than Hill in pick-and-rolls, he's still a terrific ball-handler in those situations.
Horford and West would also form a terrifying frontcourt duo, as they both play relentless and physical basketball. On offense, they can each spread the court and make the proper passes, and on defense, each big man can capably guard multiple positions. The Hawks would be able to switch on almost any screen.
It's tough to imagine this actually happening because Atlanta has other targets in free agency (Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, to name two), but it's certainly an intriguing destination for the Xavier product.
I would never have thought the Denver Nuggets were a potential free-agent landing spot for David West, but that was before learning that Andre Iguodala was opting out of the final year of his contract.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Iggy is becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer:
Denver Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract and enter free agency, Yahoo! Sports has learned.
His agent, Rob Pelinka, informed Denver CEO Josh Kroenke of the plan in a meeting on Thursday in Los Angeles.
"We are fully aware of Andre's intentions and he's well aware of how much we want him back," Kroenke told Yahoo! Sports Friday afternoon. "Andre is a huge priority for our organization."
Iguodala will bypass the $15.9 million owed him next season and will be eligible to sign a new four-year deal elsewhere or sign an extension up to five years with the Nuggets.
In all likelihood, Iggy will be the primary target this offseason for the Nuggets, but his opt out opens up the possibilities for them. Before his decision, Denver was set to pay $68,681,468 to its players. After the choice, the Mile High City organization is only on the books for $52.6 million.
While that doesn't give the Nuggets much financial flexibility, they could still complete a sign-and-trade for West, giving up one of their talented centers or a wing player to be named.
Doing so would enable the Nuggets to play even more small ball, occasionally rolling with a big-man core of West and Kenneth Faried. Small sample-sized warnings abound here, but the Manimal has actually been more successful at the 5 than the 4. So much for being undersized.
According to 82games.com, Faried posted a 21.0 PER during the 2012-13 season when he was the biggest man on the court for Denver, and that dropped to 19.3 when he was playing his more natural position. At the same time, he allowed opposing centers to post a 16.7 PER and held the other teams' 4s to a 15.9.
If you do the simple subtraction there, he had a net PER of 4.3 at center and 3.4 at power forward. It's a marginal difference, but moving Faried to center has worked out nicely so far. And this isn't just a one-season fluke.
As a rookie, Faried had a net PER of 11.9 at center and 3.9 at power forward.
Iguodala is still the primary target for the as-of-yet-unnamed general manager, but Faried's ability to shift frontcourt spots allows West to be an interesting possibility.
While the other four teams featured in this article are possibilities—mostly long shots, actually—the Indiana Pacers are easily the prohibitive favorites. Not only can they offer West the most money, but they also present the power forward with a system that he knows.
More importantly, he knows how important he is to that system.
Paul George was the best player on the Pacers during the 2012-13 season, and he also received the most media attention. Roy Hibbert and West fought to be known as the second-best player on the roster, often alternating back and forth, but Hibbert received far more spotlight than West thanks to his early-season struggles and postseason dominance.
Despite that, West was the engine that made Indiana go on both ends of the court.
On offense, his versatility and ability to either back down opponents on the blocks or torture them with his jumper was invaluable. Defensively, the Pacers couldn't have been as successful without his physicality, toughness and knack for switching on screens.
Throughout his latest season, Indiana was better both offensively and defensively when West played, according to NBA.com's statistical databases.
With the starting power forward on the court, the Pacers allowed 96.4 points per 100 possessions, and that number rose marginally to 97.0 when he sat. They also scored 104.9 points per 100 possessions when he played and just 96.1 when he took a seat on the pine.
Put more simply, they scored an extra 8.8 and allowed 0.6 fewer points per 100 possessions with West on the court. As a reference point, George's splits show that the Pacers scored 6.5 more and allowed 2.8 fewer points per 100 possessions when the star swingman was out on the court.
How's that for valuable?
David West would need to take a pay cut in order to play with the Los Angeles Clippers, but ESPN's Marc Stein speculates that it is indeed a possibility:
Indy will certainly have the ability to pay West more to convince its locker-room sage to stay, given that the Clips would presumably have to structure an offer with the $5.15 million midlevel exception available to nontax teams. But you have to figure that the former Hornet -- who rose to All-Star prominence playing alongside CP3 -- is going to want to hear the details of a proposal pitching a reunion with his old point guard ... as long as Paul himself, of course, decides to stay. If Paul re-signs with the Clips as most league insiders continue to expect, L.A. will be seeking to add the final piece or two to cement itself as a contender with some staying power.
Other than playing with Chris Paul again, the Clippers can't offer the power forward all that much.
First, there's the money. West will likely end up making eight figures, or close to it, and that's significantly more than $5.15 million. You know, like almost double.
Secondly, the Clippers aren't even guaranteed to get CP3 back. And even if they do, there's no more money to upgrade the roster, which isn't as good as Indiana's. The Pacers with West are better than the Clippers with West, and that's not going to change as Paul George, Lance Stephenson, George Hill and Roy Hibbert continue to grow.
Finally, West wouldn't get as much playing time in Tinseltown. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan need playing time, and neither Blake nor West is capable of sliding over to the 5 very frequently. West never did so in Indiana, and the Clippers were markedly worse on both ends of the court when Blake did.
Of all the options presented here, LAC is the least favorable for West. Paul by himself simply isn't enough motivation to take a pay cut, and less playing time and a lowered chance at winning a title doesn't help.
In order to sign David West, even to an eight-figure salary, the Houston Rockets wouldn't need to complete a sign-and-trade. They'd just need to nearly decimate their roster by getting rid of many players with team options and non-guaranteed contracts.
Going into the offseason, the Rockets owe $54,843,158, but if they allow Francisco Garcia, Aaron Brooks, Tim Ohlbrecht, James Anderson, Patrick Beverley and Carlos Delfino to walk, that number dwindles to just over $40 million. Basically, that means that they could pick and choose a few of the aforementioned players to keep.
While Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are still the ultimate free-agency targets for Daryl Morey, can you imagine the potential of a five-man lineup that includes West?
The Rockets could throw out Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, West and Omer Asik. That lineup has boundless offensive abilities, and the frontcourt is a terrifying defensive monster that could completely mask the inefficiencies of the backcourt.
Houston has a number of intriguing options at the 4, but they're all young and not quite ready to compete on an elite team. West isn't young, and he's ready.
If the Rockets want to take that next step forward as soon as this season, West would be a terrific player to pursue.