West opts out, will become free agent

Monday, June 27, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

When two-time Hornets All-Star power forward David West sustained a season-ending torn ACL March 24 at Utah, it was assumed in many quarters that the injury might lead to West’s guaranteed return to New Orleans in 2011-12. After all, many reasoned, why would a player elect to become a free agent in the midst of rehabilitating a severe injury? That assumption proved to be incorrect Monday, when it was officially announced that the 30-year-old declined his player option for 2011-12, making him an unrestricted free agent with the ability to sign with any NBA team.

Since the day he took over as general manager in July 2010, Dell Demps has repeatedly stated that one of his objectives is to make sure West remains a Hornet long term, even saying that he hopes to see West’s No. 30 uniform retired in New Orleans. Although West’s presence on the roster next season is no longer guaranteed – it would’ve been had he opted in to his contract – the Hornets remain committed to signing him to another deal.

"David has been a tremendous player and person for us on and off the court during his eight-years with the Hornets," Demps said in a statement. "We have had open communication with David this entire season about his option and knew with either decision that our intention is to pursue David so he can finish his career as a Hornet."

"After many months of talking with the people around me, this is the best decision for myself as a player and my future," West said in the same press release, a joint statement between the team and player. "I love the city of New Orleans and have spent my whole career with the Hornets and am fortunate to be with such a supportive organization. I am continuing my rehab to get back on the court as soon as I can and look forward to conversations with the Hornets about my future and potentially continuing my career in New Orleans."