David West Signs With the Pacers for Two Years, $20 Million

Larry Bird has waited. And waited. And waited. All the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard drama has dominated the lime light. Guys like Tyson Chandler, Thaddeus Young and Andre Jordan have gone to other, more aggressive bidders. Nene and Jamal Crawford have been wined and dined by others.

And Bird just sat there watching from the sidelines.

Until now — when David West, who was unable to find a team willing to give him a longer contract for the salary he demanded, fell into his lap. The Pacers just got a near-All-Star forward who was a marquee free agent to sign an unheard-of two-year deal. At a reasonable salary.

This is the critical, savvy, beneficial aspect of the signing by Larry Bird. It’s just an unbelievable deal for a team in the position that the Pacers are in. Any GM, regardless of his geography or current roster makeup, can get some free agent by throwing around piles of money. But Bird refused to play by anyone else’s terms, sticking to his guns about not overspending just to make an acquisition that would generate positive headlines. He wanted to make sure the deal made sense for the Pacers both in 2012 and 2014.

When free agency began, it seemed a distinct possibility the team that signed David West would be signing either get a great bargain or future albatross. People expected West to get a deal around $40 million over four years. And since he is coming off a major knee injury, that would either be entirely reasonable or a huge mistake. It would be one — but couldn’t be both. Somehow, Larry Bird, by signing West for $20 million over twos years, added a third possibility. He split the difference. And while West might not bounce back to his old self, this should always be considered a good signing.

Now the team is cluttered with good to excellent players on reasonable contracts.

There isn’t another team in the league that can claim that.

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