Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog: No-nonsense pro West a perfect fit

No-nonsense pro West a perfect fit for Pacers

Indianapolis (Dec. 13, 2011) -- In one fell swoop, not only did the Pacers land the perfect power forward for their team, they put a serious dent into the theory that premium free agents might view Indiana as just another flyover franchise.

The addition of David West not only stabilizes the frontcourt rotation but the entire starting lineup. In addition to being a consistently productive scorer and rebounder, West brings a no-nonsense professionalism, a reasoned voice of experience and undeniable leadership to a locker room.

If the Pacers were looking for a guy to set the right example for their young players, they couldn't have found anyone better. After signing West to a reported two-year contract Tuesday morning, the Pacers introduced him to the local media in a press conference at Conseco Fieldhouse.

"This was at the top of my list, the Pacers and the organization," West said. "Obviously there were other opportunities out there but they didn't present this opportunity. This was the best opportunity, especially in this condensed season and moving forward. It's a good core. It's not just one or two guys, there's a good core group here. In examining it I feel like I can really add and bring something to have an impact on this core group."

Make no mistake, the Pacers were not West's second choice. Though some media reports suggested he signed with Indiana only after a potential deal with Boston fell through, that was not the case. He looked at both situations, weighed both offers and chose Indiana.

"David West set out into free agency saying that he wanted to go to a team that had a chance to win a championship and that speaks volumes for where we're at and not only what I believe in this team but the perception around the league," said Coach Frank Vogel. "We're building something special here and the fact that he came here speaks volumes."

"We've worked really hard over the last three years to change the culture of this franchise and to bring in a group of guys that could grow together and could hopefully develop into one of the better teams in the East," General Manager David Morway said. "For David to come here and make the commitment and want to be with this franchise talks to a large extent about how he views our franchise and how he views our players. It meant a lot to us. Clearly he wanted to be here from the beginning and we're really excited to have him. He adds so much to this franchise that's going to help us take the next step."

In addition to the opportunity to win, West singled out the chance to play with Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster as factors in his decision. He also pointed to the Pacers' depth, suggesting in the compressed 66-game schedule teams with quality quantity will be in the best position to take advantage.

"I feel like I can add some experience, especially coming out of the Western Conference," he said. "Coming into the East is a different beast but I feel like they've got some pieces here and there's an opportunity to win, especially in this season where it's condensed with a lot of games over a short period of time. Deeper teams are going to be the better teams I believe this year. So I'm happy to be here.

"I'm not about a lot of flash and fluff. I'm just ready to get to work."

It's unclear when Pacers fans will get to see West in action for the first time, although he might not be up to speed in time for the first preseason game Friday against Chicago in Conseco Fieldhouse. For one, he's coming back from major knee surgery last April. Though the knee is healthy and he has long since been cleared to resume his career, West has some catch-up to do in terms of conditioning and scheme.

"When you come off an injury it does take time," team President Larry Bird said. "You can go out there and practice as much as you want to one-on-one but when you get in there with the big boys, even after a few days he's behind these guys just from these last three days (of training camp).

"When he gets out there and starts getting knocked around a little bit it's a different animal. It's going to take him time to bring him along and get him back acclimated to all the toughness that's out there and the running and doing his thing but we're going to be patient with it, take it slowly and when he's ready to go, it'll probably take him a few weeks to get in basketball shape. "

Since cracking the Hornets' starting lineup in his third season (2005-06), West has been remarkably consistent, averaging at least 34.0 minutes, 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds over the past six years. A strong face-up shooter with range to 20 feet, West also is effective in the low post.

Deadly in the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop, West should be an excellent complement to Hibbert. No longer will opponents be able to sag off the power forward to double-team the 7-2 center.

"We're thrilled to have a guy like David West, a two-time All-Star come in here that plays the exact style of play we're trying to implement, a power-post game, smash-mouth basketball," said Vogel. "He's great around the basket, he can finish, you can dump it into him and he can score, he's a great decision-maker and passer in our pocket-pass extra-pass offense, he's a leader, he's a good offensive rebounder, he's a good and underrated defensive player.

"He really fits our team better than pretty much anyone we could've hoped to acquire."

Perhaps the highest praise of West came from his former coach, Monty Williams of the Hornets.

"There's no situation on the floor that he was afraid of. He's probably one of the toughest guys I've ever met," Williams told The Associated Press on Monday. "He'll be a great mentor to those young guys (in Indiana) and I'm going to miss him. You don't lose guys like David West and just say, 'Oh, well.' "

Not long after the press conference concluded, West was escorted to the entry pavilion to see a huge banner featuring his image a Pacers uniform.

Though he appreciated the gesture, that wasn't the kind of banner West had in mind when he chose the Pacers.

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