A reunion between Paul Pierce and former head coach Doc Rivers would feel so good.
For everyone except the Brooklyn Nets.
After being ousted from the playoffs by the Miami Heat, Brooklyn faces yet another pivotal offseason. Among the team's most pressing concerns is Pierce, who will become an unrestricted free agent this July.
If KG decides to play on, those who know him well say Pierce’s incentive to stay in Brooklyn naturally spikes. If Garnett decides it’s time to stop, Pierce is bound to be intrigued even more by the scenario that is said to be on his radar already: Reuniting with Doc Rivers in Clipperland in what would also be a homecoming for the Los Angeles native.
That sure didn't take long.
The Clippers were linked to Pierce, along with Kevin Garnett, last summer before the Boston Celtics unloaded both. Per Stein and colleague Ramona Shelburne, there was a point when Los Angeles believed it could pry all three from Boston.
Lingo plucked from the collective bargaining agreement prohibited such an arrangement from going down, but you always got the sense this wasn't over. Pierce was going to hit free agency in 2014, so this kind of chatter was inevitable given his ties to Rivers and the city of Los Angeles.
As Stein notes, though, Pierce will have plenty of other options to explore this summer:
Pierce could also elect to return to Boston as a free agent to set himself up to retire a Celtic, or maybe even sample life back home as a Laker, or pick out another one of the many teams bound to be interested in his veteran know-how. Count on Pierce generating plenty of July buzz no matter what happens with his older buddy.
Returning to Boston would have a storybook ending feel to it, but it's unlikely. Same goes for the Los Angeles Lakers, whom Pierce would probably never play for anyway.
Both teams are in the middle of extensive rebuilds that don't figure to be completed over the summer. Going on 37, Pierce, as he showed at times against the Heat, can still play. He won't want to waste what he has left playing for lottery-bound squads or fringe-playoff clubs.
"I think I still have something in the tank I can give a team," Pierce said, per ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk. "Maybe one or two (years) at the most."
Whatever Pierce decides likely hinges on Garnett. The two left Boston together and if Garnett plans on finishing out his contract in Brooklyn, chances are Pierce will stay there too. If Garnett retires, all bets are off. Pierce would be more likely to leave.
The Nets have no cap space, giving them little maneuverability in their attempts to improve the roster. Their biggest addition will most likely be Brook Lopez, who was limited to just 17 games this season.
Los Angeles is more appealing by far. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are superstars, DeAndre Jordan has improved by leaps and bounds under Rivers and the sweet-shooting stylings of J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford make for a great supporting cast.
Like the Nets, however, the Clippers don't have cap space. Pierce would have to accept a substantial pay cut, which is entirely possible nearly two decades into his career. He also must be willing to overlook the Donald Sterling situation, as would Rivers and current Clippers players themselves. If the NBA is unable to dissociate him from the team entirely before next season, that becomes an issue.
For now, there is no telling what Pierce will do. Free agency is still a ways off and—more importantly—Garnett must decide on his future before Pierce figures out what's next for himself.
*Salary information via ShamSports.
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