<
>

West: Pay cut to join Spurs 'a calculated decision'

David West says he "just wanted to be a part" of the Spurs' environment, especially after they signed LaMarcus Aldridge. AP Photo/Eric Gay

SAN ANTONIO -- Plenty of professional athletes say it's not about the money.

But San Antonio forward David West put well-intentioned sentiment into practice in July, when he opted out of a contract set to pay $12 million for 2015-16 with the Indiana Pacers to sign with the Spurs for the veteran's minimum of approximately $1.5 million.

"It wasn't really a difficult decision. I guess it's just the nature of it: Everybody's just sort of focused on money and right now. I guess it's just the society that we live in," West said Monday during Spurs media day at the team's practice facility. "But truth be told, it wasn't a big decision for me or my family. I've been preparing to be able to put myself in the position to be able to choose what I wanted to do at the end of my career since Day 1.

"I've always been very strategic in that manner. This was a very calculated decision. I didn't use emotions or anything like that. It was very calculated, very thought out. In examining where I was, who I am as a player, as a person, I felt like this environment would be best suited for me at this moment. It wasn't necessarily about what I was giving up or what I'm looking to gain."

West played the past four seasons with the Indiana Pacers, averaging 11.7 points on 47.1 percent shooting last season while contributing 6.8 rebounds per game.

Sources said the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards all offered more money, but West, who acknowledged "there were a few other teams" looking to sign him, opted for San Antonio's organizational culture.

The club's signing of LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency also helped in West's decision making.

"Yeah, it actually did," West said. "He's just one of those guys who is an elite talent. I'm looking at the landscape [during free agency] and I'm saying, ‘If he goes there, they've got another shot at it.' So I was just like, ‘I've got to be a part of it.' I was already sort of thinking about coming here, and just wanting to be a part of this environment and see what it's all about because I've heard so much about it. I just wanted to be a part of it."

Veteran forward Tim Duncan admitted to being "floored" by West's sacrifice.

"It was incredible that he would say he wants to be on a winning team, a winning organization and pull the trigger and give up what he gave up and commit to coming here. Not only that, just being around him the last couple of weeks, I can already see the influence he's gonna have on our team and the tremendous help he's gonna be for us."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich commended both West and guard Danny Green for leaving more lucrative deals on the table in favor of signing with San Antonio. Green was expected to sign a contract averaging $14 million to $17 million per season but inked a four-year, $40 million deal to remain a Spur.

"It's pretty easy to decipher that," Popovich said of West. "What he did was real and true. Everybody has their own motivation. Danny did the same thing. Different people have different reasons why they do things. We're happy that [West] thought enough of us to join us."

West insisted that giving up more than $10 million wasn't difficult.

"People who don't know me and don't know how I'm structured could say that. I've got a very solid economic plan and foundation that I trust. I trust the financial people in my life. I trust the decisions that I've made about my financial future 10 or 12 years ago," West said. "So when you've planned for something like this for 10 or 12 years, it's not that big of a decision. People get emotional. People, their imaginations take over more than anything. But again, [my financial situation is] very well structured. My lifestyle, my family's lifestyle is not going to change.

"It was just the right decision to make for me. In my situation, being a little selfish, wanting to be a part of this organization, learn and get in this mix. I'm just looking forward to soaking this environment in. I'm going to learn what I can and bring what I can to the table and hopefully help the team win."