The David West trade rumors appear to be just more hot air. All David West trade rumors out there were refuted by the New Orleans Hornets, who appear content to keep West through the end of the 2010-11 season. It also looks like they want to keep West for the long term, even though he as an early termination clause he can exercise at the end of the season in June. That would allow him to try out the free agent market, and potentially get a much better contract going forward.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets and power forward West have ended talks of a contract extension, most likely because the team is undervaluing him at this point. West is probably certain (or has been convinced by his agent) that he can make more money in free agency.
West is under contract with New Orleans for one more year at a rate of $7.5 million, but has the option to opt out of that contract during the summer months. That option has made him the center of many trade discussions, especially because New Orleans could potentially lose him for nothing.
General manager Dell Demps appears confident they will be able to offer West a new contract after the season, but this comes with an awful lot of risk attached to it. West doesn’t have a qualifying offer from the Hornets for the 2011-12 season, meaning that if another team offers him a nice contract, they don’t have the option to simply match it and keep him in the stable. Instead, West is likely to go to the highest bidder, and possibly escape the rumors of being part of a team that might be contracted by the NBA under a new collective bargaining agreement.
New Orleans should have room to play around in the free agent market this summer, but they also run the risk of Chris Paul opting out of his contract after next season. That should be a hint to West that it is time to get out of New Orleans, even if he loves the fans in the area. New Orleans will be hurting if they can’t get West to sign a new contract with them, especially because the league owns the team now. That might be a turn-off to many of the pending free agents, who would probably rather go to a franchise that doesn’t run the risk of moving to an unknown city in the next couple of years.
New Orleans is about to be a franchise is transition, and because they put a salary cut in West’s contract, they might end up losing one of their best players. Fans need to really sit back and enjoy their Hornets in the 2011 Western Conference Playoffs, because they might not make it back there for a while.
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