Indiana Pacers power forward David West will not exercise the $12.6 million player option on his contract for the 2015-16 NBA season, effectively making him a free agent on July 1, per a league source who told The Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner on June 24.
Indiana Pacers power forward David West is set to become a free agent.
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According to a league source who told The Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner on June 24, West will not exercise the $12.6 million player option on his contract for the 2015-16 NBA season. This means he will become an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team beginning July 1.
The 34-year-old West averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds during the 2014-15 NBA season. Since West signed with Indiana in 2011, Buckner describes him as "a cornerstone in the franchise."
West's scoring average last season was the lowest since his sophomore season in the league, per ESPN.
During the time West was with the Pacers, he was instrumental in their consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 2013 and 2014. He missed the first 15 games of last season due to a sprained ankle.
Indiana battled injuries all season long and hobbled to a 38-44 record, missing the playoffs as a result, per Buckner.
Pacers team president Larry Bird issued a statement on the team's official website on Thursday to address West's situation.
"I haven't been in touch with David or his agent, Jeff Austin," Bird said. "So, until then he's a member of our team."
For his part, Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard told Mark Montieth of the team's official website on Wednesday the team will let West and center Roy Hibbert, who also has a player option for 2015-16 (his is worth $15.5 million) make their own decisions.
Pritchard said the team is prepared for whatever the two of them will decide on, per Pacers.com:
"We respect those guys so much, we're going to let them make the decision on their time and not our time.
"We have to model it out different ways. We have to model it out that they both opt in, both opt out and one or the other. We've worked on those models. It's not like we're not prepared for all of them."
On the other hand, Pritchard didn't reveal much about the team's plan for the upcoming 2015 NBA draft on June 25, per Montieth.
During his 23-minute press conference on Wednesday, Pritchard told the media today's game is more about versatility, with acquiring players with different skill sets as the norm, per Montieth:
"More than ever, it's not like you're going after a quarterback or point guard. You're seeing the teams that really succeed put five guys who can really make plays out there.
Pritchard on the 11th pick: "We feel like we're at least going to get a rotation guy early and starter for sure down the line."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 24, 2015
"You try to get the best player you can, because in a small market, it's your only chance to get special. We're not New York or L.A., so to get special you have to do it in the draft."
Montieth stresses Indiana's past draft history supports Pritchard's belief. Perhaps the best example was when the Pacers drafted forward Paul George in 2010. Back then, Indiana already had franchise player Danny Granger, who averaged 24.1 points per game the season before.
Even with the logjam at small forward, the Pacers reaped the benefits of that move when George became one of the NBA's premiere two-way players while Granger suffered through several injuries, per Montieth.
However, the Pacers also had their share of draft blunders.
One of these came in 1996 when they decided to draft center Erick Dampier because Rik Smits was about to undergo foot surgery. As a result, they passed up on high school phenom Kobe Bryant, who was a shooting guard, just like Reggie Miller, per Pacers.com.
Kevin Pritchard, on Hibbert and West's contract options: "We won't know until after the draft.. We'll have more clarification then."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 24, 2015
Montieth stresses Dampier was dealt to the Golden State Warriors after just one season while Bryant, a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer, is entering his 20th season in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.
Pritchard added Indiana picking 11th overall in Thursday's draft puts the team a "tier-two" position where it can acquire a solid contributor. He also said the Pacers are not hesitant to trade that pick if need be, per Montieth:
"There's a definite tier one of a few players. Tier two feels very deep. Usually you're getting into tier three by (the 11th pick).
"We're not afraid to trade the pick; we talk about that all the time.
"We heard a lot about 11. There's interest in 11.
"Moving down is tough because then the draft selects for you instead of you selecting the draft."
According to Montieth, the Pacers have made 13 draft-night trades since they moved to the NBA in 1976. Nine of those trades were made after 2006. For those draft-night trades that involved the Pacers' first-round draft choice, these netted the likes of Jeff Foster, Jamaal Tinsley, Roy Hibbert and George Hill.
Pritchard said Indiana is zeroed in on "four or five" players in this year's draft. If a promising player's draft stock plummets, the Pacers can capitalize like they did 10 years ago when Granger fell to the 17th overall selection, per Montieth.
Most online draft boards have the Pacers picking one of three players: the University of Texas' Myles Turner, the Unviersity of Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Murray State University's Cameron Payne, per their official website.
West has averaged 15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 815 career regular-season games for the then-New Orleans Hornets and Indiana Pacers. per ESPN stats.
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