The 2013 free agency class will be headlined by All-Stars Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum next summer, but the crop figures to be a deep group at every position well beyond the headliners.
One of the players expected to attract plenty of attention from executives around the league in free agency is Indiana Pacers forward David West. The veteran is in the last year of his contract, a two-year $20 million deal, signed in December 2011. The last time West was in this position he was in the process of recovering from a torn left ACL suffered at the end of the 2011 campaign.
One of West’s primary objectives this season is to prove to everyone his knee is fully recovered after working his way back most of last season.
“I feel like I’m in pretty good shape as far as my health” West said to HOOPSWORLD. “I feel one hundred times better than last year just coming off the knee surgery.”
West, 32, is at the age where most frontcourt players start to decline but the veteran has been hot to start the season averaging 16.7 points and 8.6 rebounds through the Pacers’ first seven games.
Given his age and recent knee injury West knows the microscope is focused on his game more than ever, but he says he won’t let his uncertain future become a distraction.
“I’m just trying to have a productive year,” West said regarding his goal headed into free agency. “I don’t really base my play on what’s out there looming. I just try to go out do my job and stay focused on the moment and what we have to do to right now.”
The Pacers already have $57 million in committed salary on the books for the 2013-14 season, after new deals for Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green were reached this past summer. Emerging forward Paul George could potentially test the market at the end of the 2014-15 campaign as well, making the need for the small market Pacers to keep an eye on expenses on the top of their agenda.
While West wants to be a Pacer long term he acknowledges there could be financial challenges, which stand in the way. For now West wants to concentrate on winning games, believing the rest will play itself out at the appropriate time.
“It’s one of those situations,” West said when asked if he wanted to remain in Indiana long term. “My main objective is to try to win [here]. I feel like this group has an opportunity to do that. Obviously with Danny [Granger] out it changes and makes things a little more difficult for us this year, but again we feel like with the group that we have and with Danny at full strength we can compete.”
The Pacers will be without the services of former All-Star and leading scorer Danny Granger for the next three months as he nurses a knee injury. Indiana will need West’s production during this time to stay in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff mix.