Paul Pierce Still '1 or 2' Years from Retiring, Noncommittal on Future with Nets

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2014

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Paul Pierce's season is over, but that doesn't mean his career will follow suit. The 36-year-old indicated that he's got another season or two left in him after his Brooklyn Nets fell short in Game 5 to the Miami Heat.

Where Pierce will finish his career remains an open question. The Nets will almost certainly be interested in retaining his services given that they're well over the salary cap. Brooklyn can go over the cap to re-sign Pierce because of his Bird Rights, but it wouldn't be able to spend a similar amount on a player from outside of the organization.

Pierce fought valiantly for the Nets to the very end, scoring 19 points in the club's do-or-die Game 5 on Wednesday night. Brooklyn continued putting the ball in Pierce's hands late in the pivotal game, at least until it was slapped out by LeBron James in a controversial no-call that nevertheless resulted in Brooklyn keeping possession.

On the season, Pierce averaged 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. That scoring average was the lowest of Pierce's 16-year career, but some of the decreased production can be attributed to the role he played in a deep Brooklyn lineup.

With Joe Johnson and Deron Williams around, Pierce was often a second or third option on offense.

That's likely to remain the case wherever he goes. There's clearly some gas left in the tank, but Pierce's best years are behind him. He should settle into a complementary role with a contender looking to add an extra piece.

Could the Nets be that contender? It's certainly possible, but Brooklyn fans can't be encouraged by Pierce's noncommittal stance thus far.

Per CelticsBlog's Jared Weiss, when asked in March if he would consider a return to Boston, Pierce said, "Yeah, why not? Maybe as a player, maybe as a coach. Who knows what the future holds?"

Weiss believes Pierce could eventually become the face of the franchise once again:

Pierce's comments paint the portrait of someone who, at the very least, wants to get the most out of his limited time left in his career before becoming an entrenched leader in the city of Boston. While he would likely want to be involved in basketball operations or possibly even coaching, Pierce fits the mold well of a team ambassador in the vein of Jojo White and Satch Sanders.

If Pierce wants to win another title, he might want to delay that return to Boston.

Whatever becomes of Pierce, this could very well mean the end of his stint with teammate Kevin Garnett.

We'll have to wait to find out more about Garnett's future. KG struggled this season, looking every bit a player on the verge of retirement. If he does call it quits, at least we know Pierce won't be doing the same.

He still has some unfinished business.