The NBA offseason doesn't care when you lose, where you lose nor how painful that final game of your season may be, it barges in and takes over an NBA team the second after the final buzzer sounds.
So following the Indiana Pacers ouster from the playoffs last night in Miami, forward David West had to address his free agency this summer since he was suddenly and harshly a coveted free agent on the NBA marketplace. West surprised more than a few folks when he turned down a chance to join the Boston Celtics and instead chose the Pacers.
West bought into the vision Larry Bird was selling and the situation for both the team and West exceeded expectations. Coming off a major knee injury, West signed a two-year contract for $10 million per year. He certainly earned a raise for his efforts on the court and his leadership in the locker room.
Just how big that raise is will be critical for the Pacers, as they try to keep the bulk of their current core players together. West has repeatedly said throughout the year that he's committed to what the Pacers have going and wants to remain. It confirmed that stance last night as Jeff ZIllgitt reported, stating his desire to remain with the Pacers.
"That's something I'll sit down and discuss, but this is my group. These are my guys," West said. "I can't see myself going anywhere else. We're the second best team in the Eastern Conference, one of the top four teams in the league, in my estimation, based on this year.
"This group is a solid group. Gives me as an individual the best chance to accomplish the goals that I have left in terms of my future, and that's competing at this stage of the game every single year from here on out."
West was a little more blunt and to the point with Mike Wells.
David West on his future: "I'm not (beeping) dumb, I don't plan on going anywhere. These are my guys."— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) June 4, 2013
As West stated, he's no dummy, which is why I wouldn't expect him to demand an excessive raise from the Pacers when maintaining a number ($10-12 mil per) similar to what he has now is the only way the Pacers can keep what he loves about this team together.
No doubt, other teams will try to pry West away and likely look to overpay but the Pacers can't afford to have their hand forced to overpay, as well. West is the primary player I want the Pacers to bring back, but he remains on the downside of his career and risking too much cap space, which is more valuable than ever under the new CBA, could end up being a set back in the long term.
Fortunately, there are smart people on both sides of the situation, so I expect a smart resolution.