West will be one of the premier free agents on the market this offseason, after opting out of the $7.5 million owed him in the final year of his contract. West's agent, Lance Young, informed New Orleans GM Dell Demps of the decision Monday morning.
His decision could be a prelude to the eventual departure of All-Star guard Chris Paul(notes), who has played his entire career with West in New Orleans. The Hornets might have to trade Paul next season before he reaches free agency in 2012 and start a complete rebuilding process.
Indiana and New Jersey are two teams with significant salary-cap space and a strong interest in signing West, league sources said. West grew up in New Jersey, living in Northern New Jersey until the eighth grade, and has always been fond of the metropolitan New York area. Nevertheless, the Pacers have a better core now and have a gaping hole for a power forward.
West hasn't ruled out the Hornets, who offered him a three-year, $26 million-plus extension this season.
"David wants to win, whether it's in New Orleans or someplace else," Young told Yahoo! Sports on Monday morning. "He wants a fair shot to look and see what else is out there. He loved the Hornets, but it's about finding the perfect place to win."
West, 31, had always planned to opt out, but a season-ending tear to the ACL in his left knee caused him to delay the decision until he could measure his progress in rehabilitation. West has been ahead of schedule in his rehab, and his doctors tell him that he should be 100 percent by Nov. 1. With the potential NBA lockout looming, it's entirely possible that he'll be completely healed before he has to enter the market.
When West went down with the knee injury in March, he was having one of his best seasons, averaging 19 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Hornets.
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