INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers wanted David West to stick around and lead a championship run. The 32-year-old power forward never planned on leaving town.
West agreed to a three-year contract with Indiana on the second day of free agency, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations. The person requested anonymity because NBA rules prohibit teams from announcing signings until July 10. The deal is reportedly worth $36 million.
For the Pacers, Tuesday’s announcement may turn out to be their biggest move of the entire offseason.
Obviously, our No. 1 priority is to get David West signed, president of basketball operations Larry Bird said Monday, reiterating the point his predecessor Donnie Walsh and general manager Kevin Pritchard made two weeks earlier at an end-of-the-season news conference.
The reason was obvious. On the court, West provided a physical inside presence that allowed the Pacers to play in-your-face defense, though he was far more than just an enforcer.
During the regular season he started 73 games, averaging 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. In the playoffs, the numbers were virtually identical – 15.9 points and 7.6 rebounds – but it was in the locker room where West was a stabilizing force for one of the youngest teams in the league.
By reaching the agreement the Central Division champions are now assured of returning all five starters from last season, three of whom have played in the All-Star Game – West, swingman Paul George and center Roy Hibbert. Danny Granger, another former All-Star, also is expected to return after missing all but five games last season because of a left knee injury.
Teammates wasted no time expressing their jubilation at the turn of events.
Happy, happy, happy, Hibbert wrote on Twitter after word first leaked of the deal.
The Pacers reportedly have agreed to a two-year deal with backup point guard C.J. Watson and have rescinded the qualifying offer of roughly $4.15 million to backup forward and former first-round draft pick Tyler Hansbrough.
That was a move met with sadness by what are likely to be Hansbrough’s soon-to-be ex-teammates.
Hope Tyler finds a great home next year. Sad 2see him go, Hibbert wrote.
Also Wednesday, Indiana signed first-round draft pick Solomon Hill and free-agent guard Donald Sloan.
The Pacers did not release terms.
Hill was a surprise choice at No. 23 overall in last week’s NBA draft. Most analysts did not believe the 6-foot-7 swingman from Arizona would be taken in the first round, but the Pacers believe he’s a good fit in their system.
Sloan played in 23 games last season with Cleveland and New Orleans, averaging 3.5 points, 1.7 assists and 1.2 rebounds.
Since Larry Bird officially returned as president of basketball operations Monday, the Pacers have been busy. They hired Nate McMillan as associate head coach Monday, then announced their summer league roster. Then Tuesday, they agreed to a three-year deal with West.