Reports: West to join Pacers
Indianapolis (Dec. 12, 2011) -- Larry Bird's goal all along has been to strengthen not only the starting lineup, but the bench.
With his first major move in the 2011 personnel market, he appears to have accomplished just that.
Multiple media outlets -- including ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, TNT, The Associated Press and The Indianapolis Star -- reported Sunday the Pacers have agreed to terms with David West, the veteran free agent who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the New Orleans Hornets.
Both West and his agent, Lance Scott, confirmed the deal in interviews with the various outlets.
"Indy was a team that I was really giving a good, hard look at," West told ESPN.com. "They've got a good balance in terms of a couple good veterans and some really good young players. There are some budding guys and I think that's a team that I can help in the next couple years."
The Pacers can not comment on the reports until the deal becomes official. West must first pass a physical before signing the reported two-year contract.
"David looks at the Pacers as a good young team with a lot of potential," West’s agent, Lance Young, told The Star. "He feels his experience and leadership will help a team like the Pacers. He was excited that Jeff Foster re-signed with them. He feels like Indiana is the best spot for him and his family."
Young told NBA.com West "is ready to help them win a championship."
West appeared headed to Boston in a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets that reportedly would've involved former Pacers big man Jermaine O'Neal but opted instead to sign with the Pacers.
The 31-year-old West brings career averages of 16.9 points and 7.3 rebounds to Indiana. He was enjoying one of his best seasons in 2010-11 with averages of 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds before going down with a torn ACL late in the season. He underwent surgery in April and received medical clearance to resume his career in late October.
West opted out of the final season of his contract with the Hornets to become a free agent this summer.
West rejoins former Hornets teammate Darren Collison with the Pacers and gives the team a strong pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop option at the power forward position. A rugged defender with solid all-around skills, West brings consistent production and veteran presence to an otherwise young roster.
"He gives us a guy who is very talented on the offensive end," Collison told The Star. "He knows how to space the court and he also makes sure the offense runs smoothly. Defensively, he makes sure everybody is where they're supposed to be."
Though he would supplant Tyler Hansbrough in the starting lineup, the Pacers' young forward from North Carolina said before camp started he would welcome a move if it improved the team.
"I'm excited, whoever they bring in here to help the team," Hansbrough said. "That's what I'm about is winning so whoever they feel can help us win ballgames, that's who I want on the team. If we get a good power forward, which we need some help at, I'm willing to compete or do my role to win."
Should West pass his physical and sign, the Pacers' training camp roster will grow to 18 players. They play the first of two preseason games Friday against Chicago in Conseco Fieldhouse.