David West is a veteran power forward with a good-to-very-good offensive game and basketball smarts to spare. His presence on the Indiana Pacers (before Paul George went down) gave what was otherwise a bunch of upstarts a sense of credibility and belonging in the playoffs. For someone who hasn’t been on an NBA title-winning team, West is easy to call a “winner.” It’s unsurprising, then, that once he decided to leave the Pacers, plenty of teams were going to be interested in West. And because West is only interested in signing with playoff contenders, that narrows the list considerably.
ESPN’s Marc Stein has been all over the West beat, and he’s pushing two names as the most likely suitors for West — the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Wizards:
Neither the Spurs nor the Wizards have a cut-and-dried path to West, although both teams seem like they’d be a good fit for such a consummate professional, for different reasons.
Washington has agreed to a trade to acquire Jared Dudley from the Milwaukee Bucks, and he looks to be a suitable replacement for Paul Pierce as a small-ball four, provided that Otto Porter is ready to assume more responsibility (and Kelly Oubre’s around, too). West would be a lovely counterpart, presumably starting at power forward and playing heavier minutes against bigger front lines. The only problem with that is Nene. The Wizards are still reportedly looking for someone to take him off their hands because, if they can’t, it doesn’t look like there’d be room for both on the roster or in the salary cap. They essentially occupy the same spot on the floor.
The Spurs are still in hot pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge, and unless they’re working on another big deal to clear more space, West looks like a backup plan. Just like with Aldridge, acquiring West would promise to slightly recalibrate how the Spurs play next year, but only the biggest fools would doubt Gregg Popovich at this point.
West is 34 years old, and he isn’t a max-contract player, but he’s still a valuable asset who deserves a salary commensurate with his status. There’s always the chance that he’ll take a cheaper deal to make sure that whichever team nabs him doesn’t have to gut its depth to do so, but he’s under no obligation to do any team a favor. It will be fascinating to see how his free agency plays out, being that his rumored destinations have a lot of work to do before offering him a contract. There seems to be plenty of room for the dreaded mystery team to work itself into the mix.
(Via Marc Stein)