NBA

NBA PM: West Chasing A Ring Instead Of Money

Athletes are always told to take the most money. David West decided to chase a ring instead.

Lang Greene profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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David West’s Sacrifice All About Winning a Title

Elite young basketball players aspire to one day secure a collegiate scholarship at a prestigious institution. Most of these players do so with the underlying ambition to one day walk across the stage at the NBA Draft after hearing their name called by the commissioner.

Of course, the love of the game is a driving force in their hard work rising through the ranks. But the fame, fortune and ability to improve their livelihood also carries a great deal of weight for the lucky few with a legitimate shot to make it to the league.

Once a player gets into the NBA, it’s all about finding their niche in order to enhance their longevity. Since the NBA has rookie-scale contracts that caps earnings for new entrants, it is common knowledge that guys are itching to secure their second contract, which greatly enhances their future financial freedom.

From family, media and agents, the common narrative players hear throughout their careers is “take the money.”

Former All-Star forward David West, on the tail end of a solid professional career, defied the common narrative this past summer by declining his $12 million player option with the Indiana Pacers to sign a $1.5 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs in free agency.

For West, who has career earnings over $80 million, the financial sacrifice was all about the chance to close out his career with a championship ring.

“Toward the end of my career, it’s just [about] having options and being able to make decisions based on everything but the fact that I need, need, need money and have to scrape every last dollar out of the NBA,” West said, according to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. “I’m beyond that at this point in my professional and personal life.

“I see guys all the time make decisions based on the money, especially toward the end, just hanging on and trying to make up for mistakes they made earlier. But we’re not in that situation.”

The addition of West further solidified the Spurs’ chance of emerging out of the competitive Western Conference after also adding All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge earlier in free agency.

West has plenty of playoff experience on his resume and he was often described as the heart and soul of those talented Pacers teams of recent years, but he has yet to step foot on the court during the NBA Finals. For the veteran, the financial sacrifice is worth it just to finish out his career competing at the highest level.

“My whole career, I’ve been very strategic about what I’ve done with my money and how we’ve invested,” West said. “The future is very bright, so when it came down to this basketball decision, I was saying, ‘Well, it’s not about money at this point, it’s about finding … a good basketball environment where I might learn and ultimately compete at the very top.’ These guys, [the Spurs], are there every year. The organization, there’s like a mythological lure about them and the way people talk about them.

“I’ve been a Spurs fan my whole life, and having an opportunity and wanting to learn from [Tim] Duncan and Manu [Ginobili] and Tony [Parker] and obviously Coach [Gregg] Popovich and all his knowledge, I just felt like it was a good environment, and it was the best environment.”

The Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round last season by the Los Angeles Clippers in a series that went seven games. However, the franchise won the title in 2014.

Jalen Rose Weighs in on the Kevin Durant and Stephen A. Smith Feud

The nature of predictive reporting is a tough business, as Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler recently discussed in this space. However, with the continued advancement of sports media and outlets that cover the sport, there is no end to predictive reporting in sight.

Recently, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith mentioned that he heard from sources that former league MVP Kevin Durant would consider the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency next summer. On the surface, it appears to be a harmless report as the league’s biggest names have always been linked to the Lakers. For proof, just take a look at all of the top free agent names over the past few seasons that scheduled Los Angeles on their recruitment trail.

Most guys avoid talking about free agency rumors, but Durant refused to brush Smith’s report off and instead went to the media and called him a liar. Smith followed with a rant implying that Durant doesn’t want him as an enemy.

It remains to be seen how the situation will play out, but current ESPN analyst and former player Jalen Rose recently weighed in on the issue since he has experience on both sides of the equation.

“As a media member when a former MVP calls you out, that’s not a good look,” Rose recently told the Breakfast Club morning show. “So Stephen, I’m pretty sure, was upset. I watch First Take and I know he wanted to roar back at KD. To me, I would have just let it ride. I wouldn’t have said anything back because you can’t win that battle. [Durant] is a great player and OKC is a great team.

“There are going to be people who just don’t kiss up to the media. [Durant] seems to be one of those people. Again, it’s tough when you work in this space and someone that notable calls you a liar. I hate the term unnamed sources. What does that mean? Did you hear it from Twitter? I don’t use unnamed sources.”

Rose also admits that as a former player, some guys around the league routinely get upset by his criticism of their play.

“You can’t win that battle when you work on this side,” Rose said. “You want people even if they don’t like what you say it ain’t because it’s not true. That’s two different things because guys get mad at me all of the time because I’m flagrant with what I say. And there are times when I was doing my job that [players] be texting me, agents, managers and family members [upset]. You know what I started doing? I just started sending people the box score.”

Durant will arguably be the most sought after free agent since LeBron James next summer. The former MVP maintains that remaining in Oklahoma City long-term is still a possibility. However, the veteran forward has stated that he will evaluate all of his options throughout the process.

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Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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