Unlike a lot of players on the Indiana Pacers, who still have long careers ahead of them in spite of the injury that derailed the 2014-15 season, David West understands that the Pacers are not the team he joined. They won't be aiming for the same things they have been, not championships, not number one seeds. Those things are no longer in play and West realizes it.
West's Media Day appearance was understandably sober, continuously harping on the need to be realistic with where the Pacers are going to be this season. West sees that Atlanta and Washington, the two teams Indiana beat in the playoffs last spring, improved, and while he never came out and said Indiana didn't, he wasn't short in reminding everyone of just how difficult the task was going to be and that he didn't want to make promises only to set everyone up for failure.
The Pacers are set up for a mammoth challenge according to West, as the team will have to change everything they do without Paul George and Lance Stephenson while still being forced to compete night to night and putting the best lineups on the floor. West realizes more than many other players that he won't play forever, but doesn't plan on letting that be a deterrent in terms of his own play.
When asked about his own playing mortality and Indiana's fall from contention, West reiterated that what he came to Indiana for was no longer true. He himself can only remain a professional, but does want to see where everyone's head is. With West gaining another year of experience, he noted that he and Frank Vogel discussed minute distribution and had planned to work him under 30 minutes a night for the upcoming season, a discussion West acknowledged came early in the summer.
West does believe he can still contribute at the level he played at with New Orleans, but that it will require adjustments in the way practices are run and games are played. West didn't do much different in his training for the season than he normally does, other than mentioning he worked a little more on his shooting. When asked about being a veteran leader, West mentioned that he wanted to be an example for guys rather than telling them things.
The beauty of training camp and preseason is the supposed belief that every team thinks they have a chance to compete at the highest level, but the one common link in West's Media Day conference was just how difficult things will be for the Pacers this upcoming season. With West at 34 years old, on the second year of a three year deal, and him acknowledging the reality of Indiana no longer being what West expected, it's hard not to wonder if he's long for the team.
Even riding out a tough season in hopes for a renaissance in 2015-16 puts West at 35 and reliant on what hopes to be a ready and able Paul George being able to quickly shake off the rust of a year missed while showing growth. West helped turn Indiana into the contender they've been for the past three seasons, but the unfortunate state of West's desires as a ball player and Indiana's state as a franchise may require second glances from Larry Bird and the rest of the front office. It's not a comforting thought, but it may be the reality of the situation.