David West’s agent let the New Orleans Hornets know yesterday that the All-Star forward would be opting out of his contract. It was kind of a curious move for a 31-year-old coming off ACL surgery. West turns 31 in August, and instead of collecting $8.2 million next season and then entering free agency, he’s probably going to go hunting for a 4-5 year deal, ideally with a contender. (He rejected a 3-year, $26 million extension earlier this year.) This will be his last big contract, so he might as well collect before everyone sees whether or not he’s lost a step post-surgery.
West has quietly put together an impressive career out of Xavier – in the last six seasons, he’s averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s got a nice pick-and-roll history thanks to playing with Chris Paul for so long, so a natural fit might be with another skilled point guard … like Deron Williams. West, of course, is from New Jersey. Perfect!
The logical line of questioning: The Nets obviously need to do something to keep Deron Wiliams from signing a long-term deal elsewhere. Part of that plan almost certainly involves making a run at Dwight Howard. Might a first step be to throw so money at David West?
Financially, the Nets aren’t in that bad of shape (Travis Outlaw’s deal, notwithstanding): If they pass on re-signing Kris Humphries, they can plug West into the PF spot to play alongside Brook Lopez. Deron Williams is at point, Marshon Brooks could win the shooting guard spot. That’s not a horrible quartet – depending on how some teams do in the East, I wouldn’t rule out the Nets sneaking into the playoffs.
The next step in the process – can Williams-West-Howard be your trio of stars? For that to happen, the Nets would probably have to unload Lopez and Outlaw and a draft pick or two (and involving a third team). So signing West is risky, but probably worth it. What if they sign West, but he isn’t the player he once was? Then you probably can’t convince Dwight Howard to sign a deal, and you’ll lose Deron Williams, too.
As for the Hornets and Chris Paul … yikes. They now have five players under contract for next season. How long until Chris Paul pops off again?