The New Orleans Hornets are back on track, which is more than one can say about the Ninth Ward, as they notched their ninth consecutive win last night with a 91-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. David West secured the victory for his team with a late jumper. New Orleans, with the win, now finds itself a member of the 30 wins club.
As the Hornets continue their resurgence, the fans, who were backed by a media and business blitz supported by Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, set the attendance requirements necessary to keep the Hornets franchise in the Big Easy. Attendance needed to reach 11,758 for last night’s game to ensure that the Hornets would not be able to opt out of their contract at New Orleans Arena. An average attendance average of 14,735 needed to be reached over a two season time frame otherwise the team could officially think about relocation. The Hornets’ present lease runs through 2014.
The Hornets may not be opting out of their lease anytime soon now, but one of their cornerstone players likely will be. David West is expected to opt out of his remaining $7.5 million he is owed in the final season of his current five-year $45 million contract. He wants to test the free agency waters where he hopes to command $10 million or more per season in a new contract.
New Orleans, for obvious reasons, does not want to see West go. The team’s general manager, Dell Demps has proposed details for a multiyear extension for West with his agents but a source has said that the possibility of the two sides working out an agreement before the February 24 trade deadline is unlikely according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!.
This leaves open the possibility of a sign and trade for New Orleans if West decides to leave the organization upon seasons end. He could be traded to a contender for lucrative young talent and possibly draft picks before the trade deadline. However, it is clear that Demps and the Hornets, who are now owned by the NBA, want to keep West in New Orleans. To keep him, though, means they will have to sign him as a free agent after the new CBA has been decided upon.