Hornets sign top scorer West to multiyear extension

Updated: October 30, 2006, 7:32 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The New Orleans Hornets signed David West to a multiyear contract extension on Monday, keeping their leading scorer from becoming a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

David West

"We looked to the future and realized how important David was going to be," Hornets owner George Shinn said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

West finished second in voting for the NBA's most improved player last season after averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds to lead the Hornets in both categories. West's point total nearly tripled from the previous season, when he missed 51 games with a right knee injury.

"Everyone is aware of the improvement that he has shown, particularly last year, and the type of player that he is," general manager Jeff Bower said.

The AP college player of the year with Xavier in 2003, West was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft by the Hornets and played mostly as a reserve in his first two seasons.

He got a chance as the Hornets' starting power forward last season, when All-Star Jamaal Magloire was traded to Milwaukee at the end of the preseason.

West responded by leading New Orleans in scoring in 29 of their games last season and hitting double figures in 49 of his last 50 games. After having a career-high of 15 points through his first two seasons, West scored at least 20 points in 28 games last season.

He also hit three game-winners in the final 2 seconds, more than any other NBA player.

West said he thought the biggest key to his improvement was being healthy, but he also benefited from the arrival of rookie of the year Chris Paul and from knowing his role on the team.

He said the new contract made him feel good about "knowing where you're going to be and especially knowing the group of guys you're going to be around."

"We've got a good core that's strong," West said. "I feel like if we take the right steps, we really can determine our own future."

After overhauls the past two offseasons, West is the only remaining holdover from the team's last full season in New Orleans.

The Hornets signed free agents Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson and Jannero Pargo and added Tyson Chandler in a trade this offseason as they try to make a move toward the playoffs after a 20-win turnaround last season.

West remained a part of the Hornets' future through all those moves.

"We made them all with David in mind," Bower said.

This preseason, West averaged 15.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. He left the team's second preseason game after spraining his right ankle and also sat out the following game.

"He's just going to continue to get better. He's a guy that works his butt off and he's a joy to be around," coach Byron Scott said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press