West hoping to remain a Pacer
It’s not a subject anyone wants to discuss in too much detail with playoff games still to play, but it looms on the horizon.
David West, the Pacers’ acknowledged locker room leader and vital power forward, becomes a free agent at the end of the season. Without question, losing the 32-year-old guru would be a blow to a team that appears to have such a promising future. Pacers’ management officials want to keep him, and believe they’ll be able to afford him, but what about West? Would he chase a larger contract elsewhere?
“I’ll address that at the end of the season and focus on finishing this year as best as possible,” he said Saturday after contributing 11 points and 12 rebounds to the Pacers’ 82-71 victory over New York at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “But I love it here, love this group of guys, this environment, love the core group that we have. This group only has room to get better.”
West is earning $10 million this season in the back end of a two-year deal. The Pacers have $49 million committed in player salaries for next season. The luxury tax threshold this season is just over $70 million, but has not been determined for next year.
Does he expect the franchise to be able to pay him his market value, whatever that turns out to be?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t given it much thought. Just trying to make sure I focus on finishing this year as well as we can. I’ll just deal with all that when it’s time to deal with it. When it’s on the table, we’ll eat.”
His hope is that he’s served something palatable.
“This group, the mix of young guys that we have, and obviously the character of these guys, what these guys are, it fits me, so …”