Since acquiring power forward David West two years ago, the Indiana Pacers have turned themselves into one of the powerhouses in the East and the NBA in general. They've become the best defensive unit in the NBA that can hit you with bully ball on both ends of the floor. A lot of that comes from the defensive system of Frank Vogel and the roster, but it also has a lot to do with the mindset and leadership that West provides on a daily basis.
After losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Miami Heat, West's impending free agency became a topic of discussion as we tried to figure out if the Pacers could return next year to challenge the Heat again. West quickly cleared up any question about whether he'd like to return, and the Pacers expressed mutual interest in getting a deal figured out. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has confirmed the Pacers and West have agreed on a three-year deal.
League source confirms Pacers are finalizing three-year, approximately $36M deal with free-agent forward David West.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 2, 2013
West will be 33 years old when the 2013-14 season starts, so committing $12 million or more to him when he turns 36 seems like a risky proposition for a team rapidly approaching the luxury tax. They signed Roy Hibbert to a max deal last summer and gave George Hill $40 million over five years. They also have to start thinking about a max contract extension for Paul George that would begin in the 2014-15 season. That's a lot of money to commit to the Pacers' four best players.
There clearly is evidence that this core works. They've turned into one of the best teams in the NBA and challenged the eventual champions when they took on the Heat in the playoffs. This is also a very fragile situation moving forward because this is a small-market team committing a lot of money to four players. Will they have the flexibility to add the necessary bench pieces to round out the roster? Or will they have to be perfect on every draft decision that they make?
The bright side for them is West had the second-best season of his career at age 32 and looks fully recovered from the knee injury that he suffered two years ago.