David West Expected to Sit Out First Preseason Game

The 2011-12 Pacers take the court for the first time on Friday. But the newest Pacer, David West, probably won’t.

That’s what coach Frank Vogel told Indianapolis Star beat reporter Mike Wells.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel said today that West likely won’t play against the Chicago Bulls at Conseco Fieldhouse on Friday.

“It’s only because the game will just be days after he signed with our team,” Vogel said. “He’s still learning the system and he’s got to improve his conditioning because he was holding himself back some since he was a free agent.”

This is definitely a bummer for fans who hoped to see what the revamped roster, which has added West and George Hill this summer, can do against the Bulls. Although I presume Pacers fans will be more forgiving if Bird goes out and acquires any other players who can’t suit up for the first preseason game.

West is probably eager to play. But he has also enjoyed the extended lockout. It gave him time to recover from the surgery he had to repair his ACL after the devastating knee injury he suffered late last season.

Indiana’s new forward is one of the few players who benefited from the lockout. Last season, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a victory at Utah on March 24. The 31-year-old West had surgery April 12 and was told he’d need six to nine months to recover.

Thanks to the extended break, he will be ready in time for the start of the season.

“For a guy like me, it helped me,” the two-time All-Star said. “It would have been a lot of time missed. I just attacked my rehab and knew this lockout was looming.”

Really, West is an NBA veteran who doesn’t need much preseason seasoning. So this is probably for the best. This season will be truncated. But the way it is being compressed — by squeezing 66 games into four months — is going to be brutal. Even if West’s knee shows no signs of wear and tear during the regular season, the team will likely be best served by letting him sit out a game here and there when the schedule gets overwhelming. Consider it a precautionary investment in the playoffs. Seeding will matter less than normal as all teams likely try to be healthy for the playoff more so than guarantee home court advantage.

If that is also Indiana’s philosophy, giving David a night off in a completely meaningless preseason game is probably a good idea.

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