About this time a year ago, NBA forward David West attracted a great deal of attention by spurning the Indiana Pacers in order to sign for significantly less money with the San Antonio Spurs. After one year in San Antonio, West has apparently decided to reverse field.
According to Yahoo! Sports, David West will decline the player option that would have kept him with the Spurs for a second season. West would have been due $1.5 million next year, and sources indicate that West will now evaluate whether he wants to continue his career or retire after 13 NBA seasons.
Following the 2014-15 campaign, West had a player option that would have paid him $12.6 million to remain with the Indiana Pacers. However, he sent shock waves through the basketball world by not only declining the final year of his lucrative Pacers contract but signing with San Antonio for the veteran minimum of $1.5 million.
As previously reported by the Indy Star, West decided to leave Indiana for San Antonio in order to give himself a better chance to get to the NBA Finals in 2015-16, and also to immerse himself in the outstanding franchise culture that exists in San Antonio.
David West had been the Pacers’ locker room leader, and he indicated at the time that he had grown tired of being the team’s “rock” and preferred to go to a team that had other veteran leaders who would take some of that pressure off him.
As expected, David West had a reduced role this past season with the Spurs, both on and off the court. He averaged 7.1 points and four rebounds per game in 2015-16, some of the lowest totals of his career. West was a bench player most of the year, averaging 18 minutes played per contest.
One of the reasons West chose to join San Antonio was the presence of established stars and leaders such as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Not only did that group give the team an opportunity to compete for an NBA Championship, but those players allowed West to take on a reduced role in terms of leadership responsibility.
If David West does indeed opt out of his contract with San Antonio, that does not necessarily mean he will not return to the team, as detailed by the San Antonio Express. West apparently enjoyed his year with the club, but will base a possible return on who else remains on the roster for 2016-17 and whether the Spurs choose to offer him more money to return.
— mySA (@mySA) June 13, 2016
The landscape is a bit foggy for the San Antonio Spurs at the moment, as they are also waiting on other key players to make decisions on their contracts. Tim Duncan, who has been one of the NBA’s best players for nearly two decades, can also decline his contract terms for 2016-17. Another long-time star, Manu Ginobili, is in the same position.
It should be noted that like David West, both Duncan and Ginobili would be paid far under market value by accepting the terms of their current team-friendly deals.
David West has always had the reputation of being his own man. He stunned everyone by walking away from more than $11 million a year ago, and now, he is reportedly going to take another risk by declining his player option with a team that seemed to provide everything West wanted as he winds down his professional career.
The Spurs, who were among the NBA’s best all season, were knocked out of the playoffs earlier than expected this past year by the Oklahoma City Thunder. That result delayed (or ended) West’s dream of an NBA Championship, and was likely another factor he considered while pondering his future in basketball.
No one knows how this latest move will turn out for David West, but one thing is for certain: West will operate on his terms, for better or worse.
[Photo by David Zalubowski/AP Images]