Let’s Hope David West Remembers Who Really Pays His Contract

Published: June 27, 2011

After learning that David West will opt out of his contract to become a free agent, there remains only one outcome which would represent an especially big win for his past employer (Hornets fans)– a long term, reasonably priced deal. The contract would signify that West has confidence in not only the ability of Dell Demps and Monty Williams to put together a winning team, but also in the efforts Hugh Weber and Jac Sperling have made to provide stability for the franchise in New Orleans.

The realities of David West as a player, taking into account his surgery

As the folks at Hornets Hype will probably tell me, they don’t care about my pretend medical opinion. That’s fair, but sometimes making little generalizations like assuming David West will not be more athletic after surgery, or that his production will probably decline, are sort of necessary in determining what the future may hold.

What do you think a reasonable deal for David West is?

West may very well prove me wrong and come back with a robotic knee capable of propelling him from one end of the court to the other in a single bound. That’s what I’m hoping for, but the past tells me that it’s more likely the he will slightly decline in a few areas. That’s how you judge the value of his future contract.

As we have repeatedly said, he’s not a guy that relies on his athleticism to score and create. Assuming he makes a full recovery, his offensive game shouldn’t really change much at all. That’s a good thing, as he had one of his best years on record in 2010-2011.

But what about defense and rebounding? Although West’s rebounding rate has remained fairly constant over the past five years, hovering between 12.0 and 13.7, those numbers are all below the average rate for power forwards this year (13.9). He’s hasn’t been a particularly bad rebounder, but hasn’t been a good one either. It’s reasonable to expect a slight decline in this area once he returns, and probably more so as he ages.

Defensively his struggles and limitations have been well documented. He’s been apathetic at times, appearing disengaged for the better part of 2009-2010, but that might not be the biggest problem. Even during his better seasons he hasn’t been a particularly effective defender, as he is physically limited in his ability to challenge larger, more athletic players. After presumably losing a fraction of a step, it’s hard to imagine that he will ever again be the defensive player he once was.

Lastly, David West is on the wrong side of 30. Some guys age better than others, but very, very rarely does anyone improve on the other side of that hill.

The realities of what could have happened if West had invoked his one year player option

Truth- The Hornets want to re-sign Landry regardless of what happens with David West. If that’s the case then guess was probably going to head into next year as the starting power forward for the New Orleans Hornets? It’s Carl Landry. He would be the one working with the team in training camp and in practice until David comes back healthy. He would be the one playing 35-40 minutes a night as the team finds itself battling for positioning throughout the first half of the year.

If Landy can get more comfortable with Chris Paul and the rest of the team, it’s a very real possibility that he will take the next step forward as a player. While right now it doesn’t seem likely that Landry could perform at a level that would keep a healthy David West out of the starting lineup when he returns, it’s certainly a possibility. In 2009-2010 Landry had a higher PER than West, and when West does return, he will certainly be shaking off some rust.

Monty Williams is not the kind of coach who is going to give David West courtesy starts or minutes if the team is winning and Landry is playing at a high level, so it’s possible that West would come back as a 6th man, sort of like Lamar Odom. If that’s best for the team then that’s what’s going to happen, no doubt about it. If West struggles in this role, or even as a starter, he could really hurt himself financially.

Additionally, West could come back and suffer an different injury as a result of inactivity or just sheer unluckiness. Sure one could argue that could happen to everyone, but think of the damage that would be done to his earning potential in particular if he was only able to play a few games, or worse, none at all, in a contract year.

The realities of David West accepting a reasonable, long term deal with the Hornets

Once in a blue moon a player has a chance to to something off the court for his fans that will have as much, if not more, of an impact than anything he has done before while on the court. This is one of those times. By saying “I’m in” for a contract that will pay him tens of millions of dollars and ensure him financial stability for the rest of his life, David West can allow the Hornets to move forward in their quest for a championship.

A while ago Michael talked about how re-signing David West was equivalent to “Stabilizing the First Domino”, and the theory is still the same post-injury. The Hornets need to show Paul that they are committed building a winning team, and what better way is there to do that than to sign his longtime teammate and close friend, David West?

It’s also no secret that getting David West signed for a fair price would be remarkably beneficial for team’s ability to improve. In the modern day NBA, it’s key for small market teams not to overpay for talent. Had West not hurt his knee, and instead performed like one would expect in the playoffs, the Hornets were likely going to have to shell out some serious dough for his services next year, hindering their chances of adding other real talent. With West presumably willing to take a lower salary than before he injured his knee, millions more could be available to upgrade the team now and in the future.

West is also on his way to becoming the longest tenured Hornets player in history. By signing a long term deal he would give himself a chance to wind up as the franchise’s all time leader in games played (he needs 242 more to pass Dell Curry), points (trails Dell by 2451), rebounds (trails PJ Brown by 879), and a number of other categories.

If he can get all those records, he would legen- wait for it- dary.

Let’s close with a story- Right after the team came back after Katrina I purchased tickets and started attending games. After a few visits to the Arena I decided to pick up a jersey since all the cool kids were doing it. I went down to the store, and quickly settled on a fairly cheap David West imitation. I knew that he needed the extra support since at the time Chris Paul was getting just about all the love from fans. This was back in the day when David West was the most underrated player in the league.

So I bought my jersey, and I was on the way back to my section when I noticed a table with a few Christmas wreaths on it. A woman was standing behind it, and since I’d had a few drinks in the seemingly abandoned beer garden of the early days only a few minutes prior, I walked up to the table to see what was going on. After all, I’m a charitable dude on occasion.

We talked for a few seconds about the wreaths, which had ornaments signed by each and every player on the team, and then she asked about my jersey and whether or not I was a David West fan. I said I was, and then she revealed to me that she was none other than Mr. West’s wife.

In the end she offered to give me a discount on the wreath since I was a fan, and I was happy to pay what she asked since it was a fair price. If I recall, she was happy to make a  reasonable deal with a fan who was clearly supporting her husband.

Let’s hope that David’s wife has rubbed off on him over the years.

If you’re out there, Mr. West, can you do us a solid and take a contract that assures you financial security for the rest of your life, without requiring that we give up our first born children in return?

We are, after all, your biggest fans.

Some quotes from the main players in all this

“David has been a tremendous player and person for us on and off the court during his eight-years with the Hornets,” General Manager Dell Demps said. “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. “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.”

“David’s rehab is progressing very well and he is excited about his return to the court next season,” West’s agent Lance Young said. “David is a very smart person and this decision was well thought out. We feel this is best for David’s career and we want to thank the Hornets for being behind David 100%.”


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