INDIANAPOLIS — David West’s value to the Indiana Pacers goes well beyond the roughly 17 points and eight rebounds he averaged per game last season.
The 32-year-old power forward has been at the centre of the Pacers’ tough play the past two years, and that approach has been a key to Indiana’s return to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.
"A lot of people talk about a player that’s going to put somebody in their place when they step out of line," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "People don’t step out of line around David West. He doesn’t have to put people in their place."
The Pacers said keeping West was their top priority heading into the off-season, and they announced Wednesday that they have re-signed him, along with signing free agent point guard C.J. Watson.
Team President Larry Bird said during a news conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that West is a rare player and person.
"He’s done more for this franchise than he can ever imagine," Bird said. "Coming in here, he established himself as a great player, not only on the court, but in the locker room and in the city, doing special things."
His contract is for three years and $36.6 million, according to his agent. The third year is a player option.
Watson has played six years in the NBA for Golden State, Chicago and Brooklyn. He has career averages of 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He averaged 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 80 games for Brooklyn last season.
Bird said Watson upgrades the point guard position with his ability to defend, hit open shots and keep the ball moving. Vogel recalled how Watson embraced taking over at point guard for the Bulls two seasons ago while Derrick Rose was injured.
Watson said the Pacers impressed him with their run to the Eastern Conference finals last season.
"I thought this team had a bright future," he said. "They’re right at the hump from winning that championship, getting to the Finals and getting past the Heat."
Bird said first-round draft pick Solomon Hill also adds quality depth to the team.
"He can fit right in," Bird said. "He can play right now. He’ll help our bench. He makes plays, he plays under control, he can hit open shots. He’s a great fit. He’s a worker and he don’t say much."
West said the additions fit the mould of the kind of players the team needs to take that final step.
"I just feel like if we come together, get these new guys involved and adjusted to the way we do things, Day 1, we’re competing for the top seed in the East," he said.