|Next season will be David West's last under his current contract. (Getty Images)|
West was injured Thursday night in the Hornets' 121-117 overtime win at Utah. He scored 29 points in the game before being taken off in a wheelchair holding his head and grimacing in pain after going down hard after a dunk that tied the game at 103 with 22.5 seconds left in regulation.
West started 70 games this season, averaging a team-high 18.9 points to go with 7.6 rebounds.
The Hornets, who play at Phoenix on Friday night, currently hold the seventh of eight playoff seeds in the Western Conference with nine regular season games remaining.
West's primary backup at the power forward spot is Carl Landry, whom the Hornets acquired shortly before the NBA trading deadline in February in a deal with Sacramento that sent shooting guard Marcus Thornton to the Kings.
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In 13 games since the trade, Landry has averaged 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 21.9 minutes. He has flourished before as a starter, averaging 18 points and 6.5 rebounds in his 28 starts to close out last season in Sacramento, after he was traded from Houston.
Entering Friday night's games, the Hornets (41-31) were only 3.5 games ahead of Houston, which is currently in ninth place in the West and trying to move up at least one spot to secure a playoff spot. Phoenix is only a game behind Houston and not only was hosting New Orleans on Friday night but plays the Hornets again in New Orleans on April 8.
West, who will be 31 in August, has twice been named a Western Conference All-Star, in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. Next season is the last on his current contract, and it is a player's option. That means West could choose to become a free agent this summer and may have played his last game with the Hornets, who drafted him in the first round in 2003.
West's agent, Lance Young of Octagon, said it is "too soon" to say whether West, who is due $7.53 million next season, will opt out and become a free agent.