Thursday July 2nd, 2015

Unrestricted free agent forward David West says that he exercised the opt out clause in his contract because he doesn't think that the Indiana Pacers are title contenders.

West, 34, was scheduled to make $12.6 million in 2015-16, the final season of a three-year, $36.6 million deal he signed with Indiana in 2013.

"At this point in my career, I just want to win," West told WTHR.com. "I'm just not sure the Pacers are in title contention right now. I'm going into my 13th season. I'll be 35 soon.” 

"At this point in my career, it's all about winning, and again, I don't want to be in a position where we're just fighting to make the playoffs, I want to be in a spot where we can legitimately taste the finals," West added.

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West averaged 11.7 points per game, his lowest since the 2004-05 season, to go along with 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Pacers, who missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

West said that the organization threw Roy Hibbert under the bus, as he felt that the Pacers wanted the 7'2'' center to opt out of the final year of his deal.

Hibbert ended up opting in and will make $15.5 million in the final year of his contract.

"That's one thing where I wish they would have handled better was the situation with Roy," West told WTHR. "I'll be honest with you, that bothered me a little bit, and I told Roy that. I'm the type of guy who feels like we're all in this fight together and I'm not designed in that way to put it all on one guy.”

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But West says the reasons for opting out go beyond Hibbert and finances.

"But that was not the straw that broke the camel's back,” he said, according to WTHR. “I just watched those finals, and I thought, 'Man, I've got to give myself a chance.' That's the reason I made this decision….Sometimes you've got to make a tough decision and move on."

In 12 NBA seasons, West, a two-time All-Star, has averaged 15.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in his career.

- Scooby Axson

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