The Indiana Pacers signed free agent power foward David West to a 3 year, $36 million deal today, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. The soon-to-be 33 year old power forward was never considered a serious threat to leave Indiana but that lack of surprise doesn’t make this signing any less important for the Pacers, coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
West was, arguably, the Pacers most important player this season, both from an on the floor perspective and, perhaps more importantly, as a leader in the locker room and beacon of professionalism for a relatively young playoff team making its deepest playoff run since the days of Reggie Miller. The Pacers were significantly better with West on the floor versus when he was on the bench – an eye-popping 8.9 points per 48 minutes better. It’s no wonder, then, that the Pacers were eager to hold onto the veteran 4-man, whose mid-range shooting opens things up for Roy Hibbert’s emerging post-game and Paul George’s slashing attacks towards the rim. It will be interesting to see if West will be able to live up to his contract towards its end, as he will be 36 years old in its final year.
As it stands now, West has shown no signs of decline. Last year, he posted a Player Efficiency Rating and WinShares per 48 minutes which outpaced his career averages, while at the same time playing more than his career average in minutes for the year. West’s jump shooting should keep him from losing too much of his effectiveness as his athleticism wanes but its worth keeping an eye on as West is a player who was never terribly explosive to begin with and is undersized at his position. Fortunately for Pacers’ fans, the Pacers are competing to win this year and West should be well equipped to keep them in the mix near the East’s top tier, nipping at Miami’s heels. Additionally comforting for the Indiana faithful should be the fact that Andrea Bargnani’s albatross contract was able to be moved, and given the short duration of this deal, it’s exceedingly unlikely West’s deal will become a millstone, should his play somehow careen off a cliff.