David West sent shockwaves across the NBA when he elected to decline a $12.2 million player option to return to the Indiana Pacers and become a free agent. He knew he wouldn’t command a salary of that size on the open market but insisted it wasn’t about the money. He wanted to win a championship at all costs.
One team that immediately showed interest was the Washington Wizards. Coveting the veteran’s tenacity and experience, they offered the midlevel exception of $5.464 million. Another possibility, the Cleveland Cavaliers, dangled the taxpayer midlevel exception of $3.37 million and a better chance to win. But West chose an even smaller paycheck, agreeing to a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million with the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, according to multiple reports — $10.8 million short of what he would’ve earned with the Pacers.
West’s addition is the latest in a busy week for the Spurs, who have signed LaMarcus Aldridge and re-signed Tim Duncan, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, add Manu Ginobili since free agency launched last Wednesday.
On the other side, the Wizards must now shift their focus elsewhere in the free-agent market. The midlevel exception is an attractive chip they could use to entice wing depth or another big man. They also could split the midlevel exception to sign two players and own a trade exception of $2.252 million.
After losing out on Paul Pierce to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Wizards agreed to trade for forward Jared Dudley, using a trade exception and came to terms with guard Gary Neal using their biannual exception since free agency began.