David West was taken off the court in a wheelchair after injuring his left knee during the New Orleans Hornets' overtime win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that West suffered left knee trauma, and that the Hornets fear he could be out of action for a significant period of time.
The problem is that the 2010-11 season doesn't have a significant period of time left; we have three weeks left in the regular season, followed almost immediately by the start of the playoffs. The Hornets are currently the West's No. 7 seed, three games ahead of the No. 9 Houston Rockets, who have won five straight. The team just behind the Hornets -- the Memphis Grizzlies -- have lost their own stud forward Rudy Gay for the remainder of the season.
West is New Orleans' leading scorer, and one of the team's few reliable scorers. The Hornets' offense ranks just No. 20 in the NBA, as coach Monty Williams angles for defense in most lineups. West plays next to Emeka Okafor, a light-scoring defender, and Trevor Ariza, a poor-shooting defender. Either Aaron Gray or Carl Landry would be expected to step up in West's place should the worst come of this injury.
There's another wrinkle: West will likely be a free agent at season's end, as he can opt out of his $7.5 million contract.
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