Celtics Bummed They Didn't Get David West

Many teams are upset about NBA Commissioner David Stern’s decision to not trade Chris Paul to the Lakers. But the nixed deal didn’t just alter the fates of the two teams in Los Angeles and the Houston Rockets. Several other franchises were affected less directly, but still affected enough that they had to alter their plans.

Boston, for example, was in the process of trying to get the Hornets to sign-and-trade them free agent power forward David West. Now, just because the CP3 saga was going on, it doesn’t mean New Orleans were necessarily unable to get involved in a different deal involving West. But team GM Dell Demps seemed hand-cuffed, and it’s quite possible that West and his agent saw the ensuing turmoil and began thinking that relying on the Hornets to facilitate an agreement with the Celtics was more trouble than it was worth.

I don’t know that any of that occurred, mind you, but it seems reasonable that it could have.

Regardless, West, as you know, ended up signing a two-year deal with Indiana rather than going to Boston. And Celtics starting shooting guard Ray Allen doesn’t seem particularly pleased about it. [Emphasis added by me.] (via I Am a GM)

[Ray] Allen first heard of West’s potential interest in Boston last month when Allen was playing golf in Augusta with his private banker, who coincidentally also handled West’s financial affairs.

“He told me how much I would love [West], that he and I were the same kind of guy — cognitive thinkers,” Allen said. “He said West was interested in coming to the Celtics and would be willing to come for less.”

So why does Allen think West had a change of heart?

“Once it got down to the end, I think his ego kicked back in,” Allen said. “He wanted the dollars. I guess it comes down to ‘What is a championship worth to you?’

“Think of all the guys who have made $20 million and could be considered one of the best ever, but they get chided because they never won. We [the Big Three] all had to do less when we won. We’re still taking less to make it work. But it’s worth it. No one can ever say to KG, Paul or me, ‘You guys never got your ring.’”

Theories abound on why West chose the Pacers over the Celtics. Included among them is the notion that since West opted out of a contract that would have paid him $8.5 million, he needed to “save face” among other players (and agents) by not accepting a Celtics contract that included a first year of just under $8 million, even though the average value over the life of the contract would have been higher.

The other factor could be that West preferred a two-year deal so he could re-establish himself as the two-time All-Star he was before he was injured, rather than commit for three years to a team with an uncertain future.

It’s one thing to lose a free agent to Los Angeles. It’s quite another to lose him to Indiana, a franchise that won just 37 games last season and is a small Midwest market that has always struggled to draw high-caliber free agents.

This whole Jackie MacMullen article is worth reading, particularly since it states that West could have made $29 million over three years in Boston — a significantly larger sum than the offer that had been previously reported: a $24-million-over-three-year contract. [Ed note: this sentence was altered cause it initially was written even more poorly than it reads now.]

Because of salary cap restraints, the Celtics could not offer a two-year deal. They were required to acquire West in a sign-and-trade, which means the contract had to be a minimum of three years. In what team and league sources described as a creative but complicated package, the Celtics were prepared to offer West a four-year contract with a buyout that, in the end, amounted to three years and $29 million. In other words, the average of their offer was just under $10 million (about $9.6 million)

This is good news for Pacers fans.

If the 31-year-old David West was significantly concerned about how he would bounce back from his offseason ACL surgery, it stands to reason that he would want to get as much guaranteed money as he could on the open market. If his knee might never fully recover, it would be fiscally prudent for him to try to get that one last, big contract before the wheels fell off. Especially if doing so meant playing next to KG, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen for arguably the most successful franchise in pro sports history.

But he didn’t do that.

He opted to sign only a two-year deal for $10 million per season as opposed to getting a guaranteed third year at almost the same annual salary. To me, this seems like a decision that would only be made by a guy who thinks he will be so productive and healthy for the next two years that, even as a 33-year-old NBA veteran, he will be able to sign another contract to make up for the $9 million he left on the table by not signing with Boston.

His own confidence in the stability of his knee doesn’t mean there is nothing to worry about. But if West did turn down a $29 million deal, he essentially just bet $9 million that his leg is structurally sound. That has to be at least somewhat reassuring for Pacers fans.

Topics: Boston Celtics, Chris Paul, David West, Ray Allen

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  • Realist

    Ray Allen may be a class act, but this is a bit arrogant. While I don’t doubt that the money was at least some factor in West coming to Indy, it’s not entirely unreasonable to suggest that the Pacers might be better set up to win over the next couple of years than the ageing list in Beantown. Maybe Ray thinks he, KG and PP can play forever.

    “What is a championship worth to you?” – Yeah, like Boston are some sort of mortal lock to even get out of the first round this year, letalone ship the title. Settle down, Ray.

  • JRC

    @Realist: Probably one part arrogance, one part jilted lover, and one small part truth. “…his ego kicked in…”, “It’s one thing to lose a free agent to Los Angeles. It’s quite another to lose him to Indiana…” – ouch. I guess we here in “flyover” country still haven’t learned our place :). Or, maybe, Allen missed the whole lockout thing that was supposed to restore competitive balance (or, maybe, he didn’t realize that meant giving teams outside of Boston, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, and LA a chance). I guess I’m kind of shocked that he’s that miffed.

  • Realist

    Yeah, me too.

    Also, as at end 2010-11, career earnings (from basketball-reference.com):
    Ray Allen = $168 million
    Paul Pierce = $137 million
    Kevin Garnett = $270 million

    But they’re still “taking less to make it work”. What heroes they are indeed. *swoon*

  • Ray Allen

    Notice the article also casually points out that I am a savvy investor and have a banker who thinks I am intelligent. AND that I got a ring 3 years ago!!! a RING baby, can you believe that? at long last Darko does not have more rings than me!

  • Pfeif

    Maybe David West didnt want to be on a team with aging stars who obviously have egos bigger than their wallets.. Pacers will go farther in the playoffs than the Celtics within the next two years, thanks to Mr. West.

  • Ray Allen

    Hey! I have no ego! I am the most modest person ever. Just because I claim that other people have big egos and use hypocritical reasons to back up my accusations, that does not mean that I am anything but the most humble #1 3 point shooter of all time. Did I mention I have no ego? Also how dare you say I am aging? You obviously haven’t noticed my RING…

  • Realist

    I am starting to like this guy.

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