After bouncing around for the first time in his NBA career, Paul Pierce has decided he likes being a hired gun. The veteran forward signed a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, the team announced on July 10.
The Washington Wizards could have paid him roughly double that, per Arash Markazi of ESPN.com.
Now that Pierce has joined the Clippers, he'll be playing for his fourth franchise in as many seasons. In his lone campaign in Washington, he averaged a career-low 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds, though that far undersells what the 17-year veteran brought to the table.
Signed as a low-cost replacement for Trevor Ariza, Pierce added a brashness and toughness that Washington's locker room was missing.
He openly called out young stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, pushing them to continue getting better. He revamped his game as a more stationary shooter, only taking over the offense when situations necessitated it.
And he came through with clutch shots. A ton of them.
The final image of Paul Pierce this past season was nearly perfect. Down three points in Game 6 of the Wizards' conference semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks, Pierce separated himself from Kyle Korver and launched an off-balanced three as time expired to seemingly send the game to overtime. It would have been Pierce's third mystifyingly clutch moment of the series.
Unfortunately, replay showed time had expired before Pierce got the shot off. Atlanta advanced, leaving Pierce obviously despondent as he pondered his future.
“Truthfully, what was going through my mind is, I don’t have too much of these efforts left, if any,” Pierce said after the season, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “These rides throughout the NBA season, throughout the playoffs, are very emotional. They take a lot out of not only your body but your mind, your spirit.”
After declining his 2015-16 player option, Pierce's next step was bound to be intriguing. Returning to Washington was always on the table, but he wasn't lacking for suitors. Former coach Doc Rivers has been trying to lure Pierce almost since the moment he came to Los Angeles, and there was even some speculation Pierce could return to the Boston Celtics, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Pierce played his first 15 seasons in Boston before the Celtics traded him to the Brooklyn Nets prior to the 2013-14 season. Playing for a rising coach in Brad Stevens who led an undermanned Boston roster to the playoffs last year had to be tempting.
In the end, Los Angeles offered the best combination of sentimental value and ability to compete for a championship. With his days on an NBA floor nearing an end, it's not a surprise Pierce found the happy medium.
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