David West's time with the San Antonio Spurs may be over after only a year. The 35-year-old power forward opted out of his deal with the team Wednesday, making him a free agent this July, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
"He hasn't 100 percent even decided to play," West's agent, Jeff Austin, added, per Orsborn.
This time last year, West was leaving roughly $10.5 million on the table to leave the Indiana Pacers and sign with the Spurs. An aging veteran signing a short-term deal with a title contender was nothing new, but rarely has a player eschewed such a large salary in order to chase a ring.
By joining the Spurs, West was accepting a lesser role than he would've had in Indiana. His 19 starts were his fewest since 2004-05, and he averaged 18 minutes a game, his fewest since his rookie season in 2003-04.
The two-time All-Star remained effective coming off the bench. He posted 14.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes, and his .545 shooting percentage was the highest of his career.
West is a bit like Ray Allen in that his shooting will ensure he continues to age gracefully in the twilight of his NBA career. Whereas Allen did his most damage from the three-point line in his 30s, West operates inside the arc.
According to NBA.com, West had the seventh-highest shooting percentage on mid-range jumpers among players with at least 100 attempts:
|Best Mid-Range Shooters in 2015-16—At Least 100 Attempts|
|Mo Williams||Cleveland Cavaliers||69||134||51.5%|
|Meyers Leonard||Portland Trail Blazers||67||114||50.0%|
|Shaun Livingston||Golden State Warriors||83||167||49.7%|
|Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||196||396||49.5%|
|Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers||124||252||49.2%|
|Kyle Korver||Atlanta Hawks||82||167||49.1%|
|David West||San Antonio Spurs||106||218||48.6%|
|Jason Smith||Orlando Magic||181||375||48.3%|
|Gary Harris||Denver Nuggets||58||121||47.9%|
|T.J. McConnell||Philadelphia 76ers||77||161||47.8%|
This past year also showed West still has some value on the defensive end. Like the Pacers as a whole, he struggled in 2014-15 defensively as center Roy Hibbert rapidly declined. With a stronger supporting cast around him in San Antonio, West was a better defender, particularly close to the basket.
Below is a look at how opposing shooters performed against West the last two years compared with the average field-goal percentage for each of the categories, per NBA.com:
|David West—Opponent FG%|
|2014-15||FGM||FGA||Opp. FG%||Avg. FG%|
|Less than 6 Feet||121||202||59.9%||58.7%|
|Less than 10 Feet||159||284||56.0%||53.3%|
|Greater than 15 Feet||116||293||39.6%||37.7%|
|2015-16||FGM||FGA||Opp. FG%||Avg. FG%|
|Less than 6 Feet||131||226||58.0%||59.7%|
|Less than 10 Feet||174||317||54.9%||54.6%|
|Greater than 15 Feet||92||241||38.2%||36.7%|
West's skills are clearly diminishing, and he'll be 36 for the start of the 2016-17 season. His days of starting for a playoff hopeful are likely over. However, he should continue to be an effective role player off the bench. His 17.6 player efficiency rating last year was fourth-best on the Spurs among players who averaged at least 10 minutes a night.
The list of teams West will consider in free agency is likely to be small. After leaving the Pacers last year, he talked about how he doesn't intend to play for a middling franchise, per WTHR Sports' Bob Kravitz: "At this point in my career, it's all about winning, and again, I don't want to be in a position where we're just fighting to make the playoffs, I want to be in a spot where we can legitimately taste the Finals."
West could potentially re-sign with the Spurs to different terms than his player option would've guaranteed. According to Spotrac, he was set to earn a little over $1.5 million as part of that deal. Any one of the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers or Miami Heat could also be contenders for his signature depending how the rest of the offseason unfolds.
While his list of suitors is likely to be relatively small, West should have no trouble getting a new contract for next year.
Note: Stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.