David West, who last played for the Indiana Pacers, is looking for a chance to play for a team with legitimate NBA championship aspirations. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, West is interested in playing for one of two teams in the 2015-16 season. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, one of those teams just happens to be the Wizards:
ESPN sources say David West is most likely to wind up with one of two teams after leaving Indiana: San Antonio or Washington— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 3, 2015
To this point, I haven't thought much about West playing for the Wizards. But this much is clear. West opted out of his $12.6 million option for the 2015-16 season and doesn't intend on staying in Indy, where he has played since 2011.
With West now available, he is one of the more coveted power forwards in free agency, at least after LaMarcus Aldridge, who is likely leaving the Portland Trail Blazers and Josh Smith of the Houston Rockets. This news also is a bit of a change from Thursday morning when the Warriors were the other team that he wanted to sign with besides the Spurs. However, the Warriors have over $83 million in salary committed to players in the 2015-16 season. Therefore, it seems that West wants to still get a decent payday even though he surely won't be receiving $12.6 million next season considering that he will be 35 next season and is declining.
Now that we got all of this out of the way, why would West want to sign with Washington?
- The Wizards' young core is still improving - John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter are all in their early to mid-20's, meaning that none of them are in their primes just yet. And anyone who plays with Wall should have an easier time getting easy buckets.
- The Wizards will still be in the thick of the Southeast Division race - The Hawks lost DeMarre Carroll to the Raptors where he signed a max level deal, and the Heat will still have Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Goran Dragic next season. Since Wall, Beal, and Porter will still improve over the next few seasons, he can still provide an extra boost to the rotation to help get Washington over the hump in this race.
- West will have a chance to start at power forward this season - Sure, West isn't a stretch four given his career 25 percent shooting percentage from three. But Nene is declining and West has been more durable over the past several seasons. Perhaps Nene still starts over West to start the year. But if the Big Brazilian's injured, West will be ready to step in at a moment's notice.
- If other teams use up all their cap room, West can receive the full mid-level exception from Washington - The Wizards will not pay the luxury tax, and can offer up to $5.5 million to West. Sure, he's not getting all $12.6 million back in one season, but a few extra bucks won't hurt if he plays on an up-and-coming team like the Wizards. That said, they can't offer West more than that considering that Washington has nearly $65 million in committed salaries for next season. And that figure doesn't include Kelly Oubre's contract.
Free agency is also a two-way street, so would the Wizards want to sign West? According to David Aldridge, the answer is a yes:
Situation same as last night's reporting re: Wiz/David West. They'd love to use MLE 4 him, but he's scanning the post LaMarcus/Jordan field.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2015
Since West was the Pacers' locker room leader for several seasons, he should be able to be an asset in that regard right away. As CSN's Ben Standig noted in a tweet, he could be a Paul Pierce replacement in that fashion. But at the same time, West isn't a stretch forward. He is more of a mid-range shooter, not unlike Nene or Kris Humphries, who is a younger option at the power forward spot. If the Wizards do sign West, it's likely that they're going to try to move Humphries and/or DeJuan Blair to open up a roster spot for him.
When would we expect to hear back from West as to whether he will play for the Wizards or the Spurs? Since he isn't the most coveted power forwards in unrestricted free agency like Aldridge or Smith, it probably won't be until both players make their final decisions on where to play. If Aldridge goes to the Spurs specifically, then I'll hedge my bets and say that it would significantly increase the chances that West will take a much closer look at D.C.