Paul Pierce officially opting out of Wizards deal
At the ripe age of 37 years old, Wizards forward Paul Pierce is set to test the waters of free agency once again. The 2008 NBA Finals MVP will decline his $5.5 million player option with Washington for the 2015-16 season and become an unrestricted free agent.
The move was expected and Pierce made the announcement official on Saturday morning via The Players’ Tribune.
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) June 27, 2015
While it’s impossible for the 17-year veteran to fool himself into thinking that his best days are still ahead of him, Pierce showed with the Wizards last season that he isn’t quite over the hill just yet. Plenty of teams will be lined up for The Truth’s services this summer.
Pierce posted averages of 11.9 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, and 2.0 assists per game for Washington in 2014-15. He proved himself as a still very capable inside-outside scoring threat (shooting 60.3 percent in the restricted area and 38.9 percent from deep) and a pivotal two-way cog (posting a 103.6 offensive rating and a 98.6 defensive rating on the season). Pierce’s ability to reinvent himself as a small-ball 4 as he ages while still remaining one of the league’s top performers in the clutch (just ask the Atlanta Hawks) almost guarantees that he will have a lot left to offer a contender next season.
The Wizards remain interested in retaining Pierce with GM Ernie Grunfeld saying on Friday, “We want Paul back obviously…It’s his call but if you ask me if we want him back — absolutely.” Washington will be able to offer Pierce up to $6.6 million to stay as well as the chance to continue what he built last season with the exciting young backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Recent reports have also linked Pierce, a California native, to the Los Angeles Clippers who have a void at the starting small forward position after trading Matt Barnes to the Hornets. The Clips can also offer Pierce the chance to reunite with former head coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers appear closer to championship contention right now than the Wizards do and thus present Pierce with an enticing proposition.
And don’t rule out the possibility of a Pierce return to the Boston Celtics, who are said to be pursuing a bizarro Big Three of Kevin Love, Robin Lopez, and Pierce this offseason. The current incarnation of the Celtics provides a high-upside, albeit raw, core of young talent and, of course, the Beantown faithful would welcome home their former favorite son with open arms.
We will know shortly which NBA team is able to handle The Truth.
*All stats courtesy of NBA.com*