Report: David West to Become an Unrestricted Free Agent

David West’s contractual situation has been looming over the New Orleans Hornets for quite a while now, and things will reportedly not get any easier for that team’s front-office. From ESPN: “Despite suffering a season-ending knee injury in March, New Orleans Hornets power forward David West is expected to opt out of the final season of his contract this week and become a free agent, according to sources close to the situation. West has a June 30 deadline in his contract to notify the Hornets whether he will invoke next season’s $7.5 million salary or opt for free agency, but sources say that the Hornets are already bracing for West to make his opt-out decision official before Thursday’s buzzer. The Hornets have anticipated all along that West would become a free agent, even though the former All-Star was forced to undergo surgery in April to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered March 24. The reason: West still figures to be one of the two or three most coveted players on the open market in spite of the injury after years of consistent production and averages of 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in 70 games last season. The Hornets, sources said, would still love to sign West to an extension before Thursday’s deadline. But it’s believed that West — even in a financial landscape forecasted to be more restrictive starting next season and even factoring in his injury — will eventually earn more in free agency than he could in an extension that would have to be calculated with next season’s $7.5 million salary as a starting point. Free agency will be delayed if the NBA, as expected, imposes a lockout July 1. But sources say only an unforeseen rehabilitation setback in the next 72 hours would change West’s plans.”