David West said Monday that he plans to re-sign with the Pacers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"That's something I'll sit down and discuss," West said after Indiana's 99-76 loss to Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. "This is my group. These are my guys. I can't see myself going anywhere else. We're the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, one of the top four teams in the league, in my estimation."
After spending the first eight years on his career with the Hornets, West signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Pacers in December 2011. After a bit of a down year in 2011-12 as he bounced back from a knee injury that ended his 2010-11 season, West had an All-Star-caliber season this year and helped lead the Pacers to the conference finals for the first time since 2004. The other four Pacers starters -- George Hill, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson -- are all under contract for next season, as is former All-Star forward Danny Granger, who missed most of the season and all of the postseason with a knee injury.
"This group is a solid group," West said. "Gives me as an individual the best chance to accomplish the goals that I have left in terms of my future, and that's competing at this stage of the game every single year from here on out."
The two-time All-Star finished with 14 points (on 6-for-15 shooting) and six rebounds in Game 7. West said he expected the Pacers' goal in 2013-14 to be the same as the goal for this season: Defeat the Heat.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what this group looks like in three months," West said. "Again, we've got the same goals we had last summer. Our only focus is going to be to beat Miami. I mean, that's what it was at the beginning of the year, and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future."
In terms of approach and personality, West is the anti-Smith, and perhaps even the anti-Howard. He hasn’t the slightest interest in creating any fuss and goes about his business with a plain professionalism. West, 32, doesn’t attempt shots he can’t make or make claims he can’t back up, and in that provides a safe, productive (17.1 points on 49.8 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game) addition for any team lucky enough to sign him.
Indiana has provided a wonderful fit in terms of team personality, but in truth, West could get along well in just about any context. Muscle, shooting range and smart defense tend to travel well, to say nothing of the culture-setting leadership that a player like West exudes. Roy Hibbert has been quick to credit West’s influence for the Pacers’ collective focus, and that intangible appeal should only increase the value of a player who already offers so much on the court.