Offseason hinges partly on West player option

Monday, May 23, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Based on his chronological age of 30 (he’ll be 31 on Aug. 29) and the career paths of the vast majority of NBA players, it’s not going out on much of a limb to suggest that David West will have the opportunity to sign only one more lengthy and lucrative contract. His current deal expires either at the end of June, or not until the summer of 2012, depending on whether he exercises his player option for the 2011-12 season.

At the moment, there are more questions than answers related to what’s going to happen short-term with the 6-foot-9 power forward. Will he decline his option, making him an unrestricted free agent, despite currently rehabbing an ACL injury? If he does become a free agent, what kinds of offers would he receive? Is it wiser to wait until the summer of 2012, when he presumably will be at 100 percent physically?

Contract questions aside, when might West return to the court? How much of an impact will he be able to make once he does? Will he immediately be a similar player to what he’s been in the past, or is it more reasonable to think that wouldn’t happen until 2012-13, the second full season after his injury recovery? West’s game isn’t based on overwhelming athleticism and quickness, which might make it easier for him to more quickly return to form.

Additional quotes on West:
MONTY WILLIAMS
On the player’s toughness and his scoring average increasing by five points in the second game of back-to-backs this season:
“He’s a mentally tough guy, I think we all know that. I think in the offseason, what he does with his conditioning program, his body is ready to take on the rigors of a back-to-back. I remember a few years back he had twisted his ankle badly, and guys had to help him on and off the floor. I was thinking why don’t they just take him out? I understand why now, because David refuses to take days off. He doesn’t like to come out of games, and he’s just a tough dude.”

DELL DEMPS
On West’s contract:
“David has a tricky situation, almost like a loophole in his contract. When it was signed a few years ago, he took a lot of money up front. Now the contract is descending. So at the end of this season, he has the option of opting out of his contract, in the hopes of signing for more money long-term. Under the current rules right now, there are certain rules that only allow his a certain salary that is well below his market value. Once he opts out of his contract, we then can begin offering him a new contract, until the moratorium period, which is usually July 1. We want to have David here for the long term – I want to make sure we say that – that is our biggest priority, bringing David back. We think he’s a cornerstone of the organization. I tell David I want his jersey to be raised up in the rafters so when he retires, he can bring his kids back here and see all of his accomplishments. So our goal is to bring David back here.”