David West to opt out of contract

Pacers' team leader has decided to pass on $12.6-million option, according to Indy Star report citing a league source.

Indiana Pacers forward David West will not exercise his final-year contract option, thus becoming a free agent in July, The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed league source.

The 11-year veteran has been a team leader for the blue and gold since signing before the 2011-12 season. He had a $12.6-million option for the 2015-16 season.

West, who turns 35 in August, had hinted before last season that he might soon retire. Despite missing 16 games due to injuries, he sounded more invigorated as the season continued and appeared to be leaning toward a return.

The physical 6-9, 250-pound forward averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. The Pacers (38-44) missed out on the playoffs by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker for the Eastern Conference’s final berth.

West’s scoring average dropped from 14 points-per-game the previous season and 17.1 ppg in 2012-13 and was the lowest since his second season with New Orleans, when he wasn’t yet a full-time starter.

Earlier in the day, Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard said the team was letting both West and center Roy Hibbert take their time in deciding their futures, but the organization had contingency plans for all stay-or-go scenarios. Hibbert has a $15.5-million option for the final year of his contract.

Pacers President Larry Bird has said he expects Hibbert to opt-in, but acknowledged he thought his center could have produced more last season. Bird said the team was changing its future approach toward a more up-tempo game with versatile players, hence the enigmatic Hibbert would likely have a more diminished role.

That West has opted out gives the Pacers more money to spend in free agency. If Hibbert decided to opt out, the team would be even bigger spenders.

West is a two-time All-Star, in 2007-08 and 2008-09 with the Pelicans. Hibbert, who has faced continual scrutiny for a lack of scoring and enigmatic personality, was named an All-Star last season and in 2012.

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has said Hibbert’s value is often underestimated because the 7-2 center is a strong rim protector and shot blocker. Hibbert, 28, averaged 10.6 points, the lowest total since his rookie year in 2008-09, as well as 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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