David West will miss the rest of the season for the New Orleans Hornets after suffering a torn ACL, reports Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans Time-Picayune. West was injured in the fourth quarter of the Hornets' dramatic overtime win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday. He was wheeled off the court, and while X-rays turned out negative, a Friday MRI in Phoenix reportedly turned up the tear.
West has been New Orleans' top scorer and most reliable big man this season; he's been the team's second-best player since Chris Paul turned around the franchise in 2005. The Hornets are in playoff position, currently the No. 7 seed in the stacked West. Losing West is a real blow to N.O.'s hope of a first-round upset over the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers or Dallas Mavericks.
West could be replaced by Aaron Gray or Carl Landry in the starting line-up. Landry, acquired in a deadline deal for Marcus Thornton, hasn't performed well for the Hornets, failing to recapture his brilliant sixth-man production from his Rockets days. He bounced between the starting five and the bench in Sacramento before the trade, but has been a reserve exclusively in New Orleans.
West is on the books for $7.5 million next season, but he has an opt-out option. Whether he joins a light free agent market could depend on his expected recovery time. For more analysis of the injury and the Hornets' playoff hopes, visit At The Hive.