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Will West Be Back Next Year? I Hope So

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Two-time all-star David West has spent his entire 8 year career with the New Orleans Hornets. Whether or not the power forward will remain in NOLA next year is uncertain. He can opt out of his contract after this season, and he will. You can count on it. That doesn’t mean he wants to leave New Orleans, and it doesn’t mean he does.

West has publicly stated he does not want to negotiate a contract extension during the season. While the Hornets tried to open up contract discussions, West seems content to play out this year. With one year left on his contract at $7.5 million, David has a player option to opt out of the last year of his deal and hit free agency.

“He’s earned the right to choose and I’ve talked to him about that on a few occasions. I’ve tried to show him how diligently I work and prepare so he’ll want to come back here,” explained Hornet head coach Monty Williams.

There is uncertainty about next NBA season. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire over the summer. The owners desperately need to decrease player salary, something that could force the league into a lockout. Despite the uncertainty, I expect West to opt out of his deal, and hit the free agent market. He is arguably the most attractive free agent in a weak 2011 FA field.

Here is a list of recognizable  2011 free agents (several players have opt out clauses): Tayshaun Prince, Marcus Thornton, Marco Belinelli, Jamal Crawford, Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, Jeff Green, Nene, Wilson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, David West.

Randolph is the only name on the list with slightly better talent that West, but Randolph has had maturity issues his entire career. Also, the Grizzlies initiated and held serious contract negotiations with Zach Randolph over the past week, meaning Randolph may not even be on the market this offseason.

David is a solid player, but the fact that he will be 31 years old next year, and the most attractive free agent on the market, goes to show you the 2011 free agent class is one of the weakest in years. It also is an obvious reason why West will opt out and look for a solid payday.

David likes New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. He values the franchise, and believe me, the Hornets value him. Monty Williams commented that West (18th overall pick in the 2003 draft) might be the best draft pick in Hornet history. Chris Paul is close to West, and would most likely be upset if he saw his best teammate go elsewhere. Chris Paul can opt out after next season, and keeping West around may help the Hornets keep the face of their franchise (Paul) around for the long-term.

The Hornets have not been shy about their desire to keep David in a Hornet uniform beyond this year. Whether they will be able to remains to be seen.

“For us to be in position to keep him is a good thing,” Williams said. “There are going to be teams that come after him. But the cool thing is he knows what we represent and understands where we’re going. He’s going to be the flagship leading us there.’’

You probably noticed Carl Landry’s name on the list of 2011 free agents. His future could be directly tied to West’s. While it’s possible both could resign with the Hornets, if West gets away, Landry will most certainly be back with the fleur-de-bees. Here is something many of you already know. Carl Landry is not better than David West.

West has been the one constant of the Hornet franchise since they’ve been in New Orleans. In the Hornets first year in New Orleans, West was a senior at Xavier, marking the only year West was not part of the franchise since they came to Louisiana. From 2003 until now, West has been perpetual. He has seen players, coaching staffs, and even owners, leave the organization. He continues to climb up the Hornet record books in scoring, rebounding, games played, and free throws. He’s represented the Hornets in two all-star games, while doing plenty of good work in the communitiy. Despite all this, West has quietly remained out of the spotlight.

David West, the one constant of the New Orleans Hornets, yet forgotten by many. If West ends up elsewhere next season, I will miss his him. His midrange jumper, feisty post play, never back down attitude, and respect of Louisiana, will be a few things I will always remember about David West. Personally, I hope he remains the constant.

David West has never been appreciated by a bulk of the Hornet fanbase, something that still boggles my mind. His game, and his name, will always be under appreciated. If you believe David, he would tell you he likes it that way. This summer however, he will get a much deserved, and appreciated, payday. I hope it’s from the franchise he has represented with dignity and class for the last eight years.

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