David West available
The biggest hole on the Indiana Pacers roster at the moment is the power forward position. Tyler Hansbrough showed that he can be a solid player at that spot, but most believe he is better suited to coming off the bench as an energy guy, and in any case, the Pacers are somewhat thin up front right now with Josh McRoberts a potential departee due to free agency and Jeff Foster and Solomon Jones coming off contract (Foster could be back but he’s getting old and there’s almost zero chance of Solo being re-signed).
And now, David West, a former All-Star who played solidly for the New Orleans Hornets last season, averaging 18.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game until be blew out his ACL in March, has announced that he will test the free agent market this ofseason — and reports indicate that Indiana could very well be a potential destination for him.
What are the chances West will join the Pacers?
But is it realistic to assume that West would consider the Pacers? West has not ruled out heading back to New Orleans, but he hasn’t signed an extension either because he believes he could be worth more money on the open market (he earned around $8.2 million this past season). And the Pacers are one of the few teams with the cap space to overpay him — and let’s face it, the Pacers will have to overpay to bring in any big name free agent.
The other team vying for West’s services is the New Jersey Nets, who should be considered the early favorite because West grew up in New Jersey and the Nets have a superstar point guard in Deron Williams and a solid big man in Brook Lopez. Furthermore, New Orleans has always said that they would like to keep West and he has not ruled that out.
That said, the Pacers do have a chance. New Jersey is indeed a more enticing destination as far as market size goes but they only won 24 games last season whereas the Pacers made the playoffs. The Nets do have Williams and Lopez but the Pacers do have the better young pieces in Granger, Hibbert, Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and George Hill. On top of that, Collison played with West in New Orleans, so there is that added familiarity. As for New Orleans, with Chris Paul looking more and more likely to bolt after next season, there might not be an incentive to stay around.
West himself has suggested that financial considerations will drive his decision, which is a good sign for Indiana.
Would West be worth it?
Getting West would be huge for the Pacers. He won’t necessarily be the Batman to Danny Granger’s Robin, but he would certainly be option A1, and with Roy Hibbert in the middle, the Pacers would have a very formidable front court. All three would be a threat to score, especially from mid-range. He would also add that much needed post presence the Pacers lack at the moment (Hibbert being the only legit post threat on the team right now). On paper, he would definitely be the big name addition the Pacers need to take them to the next level.
On the flip side, West is 30 years old, and could be entering a decline in his career. More importantly, ACL injuries are serious and there are question marks over whether West would be as effective as he was. Then again, it has been reported that West has been rehabbing hard and doctors believe he will be 100% recovered by November 1st.
A further concern regarding West is that he is somewhat undersized at power forward at only 6’9″, and while he is a solid defender at that position he is not a great defender, shot blocker or rebounder. Given the Pacers’ defensive woes, would they be better off getting a bigger four that is more rebounding and defensive-minded?
I still say the Pacers should go for it if they can. It’s not every day that a former All-Star still arguably in his prime would even consider going to Indiana. And the Pacers have shown that the need consistenyt scoring badly. Granger included, there isn’t a single player on the roster capable of putting up solid numbers every night. The Pacers cleared their cap space for this very purpose — signing a marquee free agent that can take them to the next level. Not sure if David West is that guy but he might be the best that the Pacers can hope for.
Carl Landry also possible
It has also been reported that fellow New Orleans Hornet Carl Landry (also a free agent) is on the Pacers’ radar. Landry is an even more undersized PF at 6’8″, but he is a strong stud who is 3 years younger than West — and he will be significantly cheaper (he earned $3 million last season).
Landry averaged 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game last season for Sacramento and New Orleans, and upped those numbers to 15.8 and 5 in the playoffs with West out.
Would Landry be a better fit for the Pacers? Not necessarily. He’s might hustle harder than West but West is the better player in most facets of the game, at least for now.
At the end of the day, adding either player would make the Pacers a contender, but it would certainly make them a lot better. And for now, that’s all you could really ask for.